The Houston Chronicle yesterday published an account of a 2013 trip by 10 members of the House of Representatives to Azerbaijan that violates a House rule that prohibits the acceptance of overnight travel from corporations that employ lobbyists. The trip was indirectly paid for by companies doing business in Azerbaijan through nonprofit groups.
The fact set is similar to the 2008 case involving a trip to the Caribbean by then-Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), exposed by NLPC, and investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). OCE referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee, which "admonished" Rangel, prompting his resignation as House Ways and Means Chairman. The head of the nonprofit that sponsored the event was eventually convicted of lying to Congress.
On Thursday, July 17, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will be back as a witness on Capitol Hill, this time before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who has been an outspoken critic of GM's response to the deadly ignition switch defect, chairs the Subcommittee. Indeed, the hearing is titled, "Examining Accountability and Corporate Culture in Wake of the GM Recalls." Another subcommittee member, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), has been even more outspoken. Both deserve credit for seeking to make GM accountable, especially since some members on both House and Senate committees have pulled their punches on Barra and GM.
Here's the background on the lawsuit as explained by Fred:
On May 4, 2008, Missourians For Cleaner, Cheaper Energy filed a petition with the Missouri Secretary of State, Robin Carnahan, to put Proposition C, the Clean Energy Initiative on the November 2008 ballot in Missouri. This proposition created a renewable electricity standard in the state. The standard requires utility companies to gradually increase their usage of renewable energy annually until 15% of the energy used in the state is renewable.
On May 13, we asked GM to recall Chevy Silverados and other pickups and SUVs with a brake line corrosion problem. GM responded by claiming that it was a "maintenance issue" and therefore not a reason to order a recall.
General Motors has finally responded to our May 13 request that it recall 6 million Chevy Silverados and other light trucks and SUVs. In a letter from Jeffrey Boyer, Vice President for Global Safety, GM is sticking to its longstanding claim that a brake line corrosion problem results from "wear and tear." From Boyer's letter:
Brake line wear on vehicles is a maintenance issue that affects the entire automotive industry. As with every vehicle part, our safety personnel regularly investigate brake line complaints for possible defects.
This statement is directly refuted by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data. The kind of corrosion affecting GM vehicles does not plague the rest of the industry. In the only other situation with any similarity, Subaru last year undertook a recall.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) faces a primary election tomorrow against State Senator Adriano Espaillat, who came within 1,100 votes of upsetting him two years ago, and Harlem preacher Rev. Michael Wolrund. If elected, Espaillat would be the first Dominican elected to Congress. In a June 6 televised debate, Rangel invoked Espaillat's ethnicity:
Just what the heck has he done besides saying he's a Dominican?...He wants to be the Jackie Robinson of the Dominicans in the Congress, which is ambitious, but the fact is, Jackie Robinson was a star before he reached the major leagues. And he's not a Jackie Robinson.
It is expected that GM's internal investigation will absolve GM CEO Mary Barra of responsibilty for the deadly recall delay that resulted in at least 13 deaths and 31 injuries.
I don't think anybody expects an investigation paid for by GM and conducted by lawyers with longstanding cozy relationships with GM to be anything but a whitewash. This only increases the necessity of NHTSA and Congress getting to the bottom of the delay. They owe it to the victims and the public.
People are tired of hearing leaders at the highest levels of responsibility claim that they were simply not aware.
Here are some questions for GM, NHTSA and Congress:
The axiom that "all that rises must converge" is upside down in New York State where all that falls is now converging. According to the New York Post, Rep. Charles Rangel's campaign manager helped incorporate a nonprofit group that was plundered by New York City Councilman Ruben Wills, who was arrested last week. From the article:
Rasheida Smith, a longtime southeast Queens Democratic operative, is listed on the incorporation papers of New York 4 Life, the group that state authorities say Wills looted for more than $30,000 to buy such luxuries as a $750 Louis Vuitton handbag.
Today, I sent this letter to David Friedman (in photo), Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):
On March 30, 2010 NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigations opened Preliminary Investigation PE10010, into corrosion-related brake line failures in General Motors full-size pickups made between 1999 and 2003. In January 2011, that investigation was upgraded to ODI Engineering Analysis EA11001, which in part appears to determine if corrosion-related brake line failures were a General Motors-specific issue or industry-wide. The "Engineering Analysis" investigation remains open to this day after over three years, making it NHTSA's longest-running open investigation, and the second longest investigation in its history.
Here's the text of a letter I sent today to GM CEO Mary Barra. As I indicate, we welcomed her affirmative response to our request last month for a recall of a separate set of vehicles with a different problem.
Dear Ms. Barra:
We ask General Motors (the Company) to recall model years 1999 through 2003 for the following vehicles: Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Sierra, GMC Tahoe and GMC Yukon.
These six million pickups and SUVs endanger the lives and safety of their owners due to a loss of braking related to brake line corrosion.