The Association of American Railroads will have a new person serving as its top lobbyist, as Laurie Knight will take the post of senior vice president of government affairs starting July 25, and replace the retiring Hubert O’Bannon.
The AAR represents the largest freight railroads, and works closely with other groups representing short lines, manufacturers and some shipper organizations. O’Bannon, widely known as “Obie,” was with the trade group for 23 years, a period in which the AAR successfully fought off attempts in Congress to toughen economic regulations on railroads.
AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger said O’Bannon was retiring after “an incredibly distinguished career representing railroads on Capitol Hill.” The AAR also said he had “worked on some of the most important legislation that has helped positively shape today’s world-class U.S. freight rail system.”
Knight also has a strong background in Washington lobbying. She most recently was executive vice president of government affairs at the National Association of Broadcasters. Before that, she headed government affairs for the National Beer Wholesalers Association and had been legislative director for Rep. Jim Turner, D-Texas.
Hamberger said Knight “has a tremendous understanding of how to effectively represent a complex industry before key decision makers in Washington.”
O’Bannon’s rail career covered 35 years. Before joining the AAR in 1988, he was director of federal relations at the Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail), special representative at Penn Central Transportation and was a legislative assistant with the Democratic Study Group.