Peter Flaherty's blog

NYC Councilman Ruben Wills Busted

Ruben WillsNew York City Councilman Ruben Wills of Queens was arrested today on corruption charges, the latest New York politician to be caught up in investigations apparently triggered by NLPC. According to the New York Daily News:

Wills had been under investigation by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli over tens of thousands of dollars in missing state funds given to a not-for-profit group he once headed, New York 4 Life.

Survey: Consumers Distrust GM; Oppose Liability Exemption

SurveyToday we released the results of a new survey that reveals the majority of consumers believe General Motors deliberately tried to cover up the deadly recall delay of 1.6 million vehicles. The survey findings also show consumers believe the federal government bailout in 2009 allowed GM to avoid liability for the deaths, and has also helped the company avoid making necessary changes to improve its corporate culture and business operations. 

The survey, conducted on April 10, 2014 by McLaughlin and Associates, was released at the 2014 New York International Auto Show in the wake of GM CEO Mary Barra's testimony before House and Senate Committee hearings on the company's decade-late vehicle recall that is connected to 13 deaths and dozens of injuries.

GM CEO Barra Knew About Steering Defect in 2011

BarraAccording to documents released today by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, General Motors CEO Mary Barra was made aware in 2011 of a steering loss defect in Saturn Ions that were not recalled until March 31 of this year, in apparent response to our request of March 19.

We made the recall demand after NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica found a glaring anomaly while examining documents on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. NHTSA had ordered a recall in March 2010 of Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s for the steering loss defect but three years later had not yet ordered a recall of Saturn Ions, which have the same power steering system.

Former Countrywide Trader Behind Fannie/Freddie 'Reform' Bill

Countrywide signAlana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon today reports that Michael Bright, a senior advisor to Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) who was instrumental in crafting a bill to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has a controversial background.

He worked as at Countrywide Financial from 2002 to 2006, and as a senior trader for Wachovia from 2006 to 2008. Countrywide was the center of a major financial and political scandal, and was a major contributor to the sub-prime loan crisis.

From the article:

Rangel Stiffed NY State on Office Rent

RangelWhat is it about Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and real estate? From yesterday's New York Post:

State taxpayers were stiffed out of at least $87,000 when Rep. Charles Rangel stopped paying for the district office he rents in Harlem's Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, records ­obtained by The Post show.

His staffers' excuse? They lost the lease, according to state Office of General Services correspondence.

Barra Can't Blame 'Old GM' for Today's Problems

Roll Call mastheadRoll Call published my piece today. It was written before the recall of 1.5 million vehicles for steering loss, in apparent response to our March 19 request.

Why did General Motors wait a full decade to recall more than 1.6 million vehicles that have been connected to 13 deaths and dozens of injuries?

Most of the questions at this week's Congressional hearings will certainly focus on who knew what, and when they knew it. The answers, and how they relate to the 2009 government bailout of GM, could have political and criminal implications. When it comes to questions of vehicle safety, congressional investigators no doubt will find that the bailout only enabled a culture of mediocrity at GM.

GM Recalls 1.3 Million Vehicles With Steering Loss Defect

In apparent response to our request, General Motors announced today that it would recall 1.3 million vehicles that may experience sudden power steering loss.

We made the request on March 19 after NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica found a glaring anomaly while examining documents on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website. NHTSA had already ordered a recall in March 2010 of Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s for the steering loss defect but three years later had not yet ordered a recall of Saturn Ions, which have the same power steering system. In my March 19 letter to GM CEO Mary Barra, I wrote, "We do not know why NHTSA has not already ordered a recall or whether politics enter into its decision-making process.  It doesn't matter. You have the authority to immediately recall these vehicles."

GM Asked to Recall 382,000 Vehicles With Steering Loss Defect

GM recallThis letter is being sent today to GM CEO Mary Barra:

We ask that General Motors (the Company) recall Saturn Ions for the model years 2004 through 2007 without further delay.

These automobiles endanger the lives and safety of their drivers and passengers due to a loss of power steering, a serious problem of which the Company has been aware for several years.

According to a summary of an ongoing investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

...GM indicated that the EPS (electric power steering) system used in the subject vehicles was the same as that used in the MY2005 to 2010 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5. In March 2010, GM recalled approximately 1.05 million Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles (NHTSA recall no. 10V-073) to correct a defect with the EPS assist motor.

Questions Upton Committee MUST Ask GM About Recall Delay

Fred Upton photoThe following letter was sent today to Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

As your committee prepares for the upcoming House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the recent GM recall, I urge you to use every opportunity to examine what, if any, influence the U.S. government's ownership of GM has had on this troubling failure to address the dangerously flawed vehicles. In addition, we urge your committee to consider posing the following questions to panelists at your hearing:

NY Times Profiles Menendez Donors

MenendezIn today's New York Times, Frances Robles provides new details of the extensive political giving of two wealthy Ecuadoran brothers, Roberto and William Isaias, who are wanted in their home country for allegedly looting a bank. From the Times:

"There is a certain mercenary aura on the Hill when it comes to overlap of fund-raising from wealthy individuals with problems," said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a research group. "The key elements are all there: They are wealthy and have problems that are solved by the discretionary judgment of someone in the administration. They have tons of money and are willing to write checks all over the place."

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