Continental crash relatives criticize airline association hire

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Continental Connection flight 3407, which was operated for the airline by regional carrier Colgan Air, crashed as it approached the airport in Buffalo in February 2009. Pilot fatigue was cited as one of the causes of the accident.

Congress has passed legislation calling for additional training for pilots and stricter limits on the number of hours they could fly. The changes are currently in the administrative rule-making process, and the 3407 families say they are being held up by airlines.

The ATA, however, said the criticism from the group was unfair given the President Obama's stated ban on lobbying his administration the White House routine made hires sign when they took office.

"Anyone who has worked in the current administration is explicitly prohibited from lobbying the White House," ATA spokeswoman Jean Medina said in a statement provided Tuesday to The Hill. "This is an inaccurate and inappropriate personal attack and does not reflect at all the work Mr. Kennedy was hired to do."

The White House occasionally issued waivers of its lobbying ban for some top-level hirers in the earliest days of Obama's administration.

Kennedy, who did not receive a waiver, started working at the ATA in July. Prior to his tenure in the White House, he previously served Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-Mo.) chief of staff and worked for former House Majority and Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.).