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St. Louis Lambert International Airport

Passengers walk through a hallway in Terminal 2 at St. Louis Lambert International Airport on Thursday, May 17, 2018. Photo by Nikos Frazier, nfrazier@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — Jeff Rainford, who had served as chief of staff to former mayor Francis Slay, has withdrawn as a lobbyist for one of the companies that wants to land a contract to operate St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

However, Rainford said Friday he remains involved with the company, California-based OakTree Capital Management.

He said his main role has always been putting together the team that will devise the company’s proposal should city officials decide to seek outside operators for the airport.

Rainford said he withdrew his registration on Thursday with the Missouri Ethics Commission as a lobbyist for STL Aviation Group LLC, which is owned by OakTree, because he had done little lobbying.

Slay, the former mayor, remains registered as a lobbyist for another company interested in getting the contract, Spain-based Ferrovial Airports.

Rainford said his withdrawal as a lobbyist wasn’t a reaction to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s statement, issued Thursday, that Rainford and Slay’s representation “works to their disadvantage with me” regarding the privatization issue.

“Jeff Rainford and Francis Slay’s representation does not influence me one iota,” the mayor said in the statement. “Frankly, it works to their disadvantage with me.”

Krewson said if the city decides to seek proposals to run the airport, all will be evaluated on the strength of the proposal, “not on who their lobbyists are. Frankly, they don’t need a lobbyist at all.”

Rainford said he had “de-registered” before hearing about Krewson’s statement, which was issued in response to a column by Post-Dispatch columnist Tony Messenger.

Rainford said Friday he agreed with the mayor that the city’s decision should be based on the merits of the various rival proposals and not on the strength of the lobbying team.

“Nobody is going to be able to talk the city into a bad deal,” Rainford said. “Nobody is going to be chosen based on who they hire.”

Slay could not be reached for comment Friday.

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