GM Asked to Disclose Donations to Nonprofits in Wake of Awards-for-Barra Controversy

Barra Appeal of ConscienceToday I sent the following letter to Theodore Solso, Chairman of the GM Board:

As a shareholder, the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) asks General Motors (GM) to disclose all its contributions to charitable and nonprofit organizations by the company, the General Motors Foundation, or any other entity.

This request is prompted by the acceptance of various awards by CEO Mary Barra offered by charitable and nonprofit organizations at the same time some of the groups are recipients of large cash donations from GM.

The company has vigorously publicized these awards, apparently as part of a campaign to promote and rehabilitate Ms. Barra’s image in the wake of the ignition switch recall delay, for which the death toll continues to rise. Unfortunately, this campaign has backfired and resulted in negative publicity for the company.  

On November 10 of last year, we asked the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) …

Congress Asked to Investigate Whether Obama Administration Delayed GM Ignition Switch Recall

Jason ChaffetzToday, we requested that the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform undertake an “independent” investigation of the General Motors ignition switch recall delay, in light of newly obtained emails by lawyers suing GM.

Those emails suggest that the Treasury may have timed its final sale of GM shares to precede public knowledge of the ignition switch fiasco. They also cast doubt on GM CEO Mary Barra’s previous account of what she knew and when she knew it.

Here is the text of a letter I sent today to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), in photo, the incoming Chairman of the Oversight & Government Reform Committee:

At a February 2010 Oversight Committee hearing on the risk from Toyota gas pedals, you asked a remarkably prescient question: “Does the government treat Toyota the same as it does all other automakers?”

Then-Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood was unable to explain why the …

McCaskill and Blumenthal Must Press GM’s Barra for Brake Corrosion Recall

Claire McCaskillOn 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.

Richard BlumenthalThe hearing is expected to focus on the deadly ignition switch fiasco. It is imperative, however, that McCaskill and Blumenthal press Barra on a separate issue, the necessity of a recall of pickups and SUVs with a brake corrosion defect. On May …

Media Notices GM Refusal on Brake Line Recall Request

rusted brake lineOn 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.

The media is finally paying attention to the issue. Yesterday, Bloomberg ran a story titled “GM’s Rusting Brake Lines Don’t Make the Cut in Record Recalls,” by Jeff Plungis and Jeff Green. From the piece:

“They seem to be doing a lot of recalls, but on closer investigation, you find they’re more hesitant to do the recalls that cost more money,” said Mark Modica, an associate fellow with the National Legal and Policy Center, who was a onetime GM bondholder and a former manager at a Saturn dealership in Pennsylvania. “GM’s response has been quite callous.”

The New York Times also covered the issue yesterday in an article titled “G.M.

GM Resists Recall for Brake Line Defect in Chevy Silverado, Other Vehicles

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.

 …

GM’s Internal Investigation (Mary Barra’s Whitewash) Prompts Questions

Valukas photoIt 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:

1) Does ignorance of this deadly defect reflect any better on GM’s senior executives than complicity? If nobody in GM’s senior leadership takes credit for this, doesn’t it create huge incentives for executives to remain ignorant of potentially deadly defects?…

NHTSA Asked to Recall GM Pickups and SUVs With Brake Corrosion

David FriedmanToday, 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.

In response to media coverage of our recent letter to General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra calling for the recall of full-size trucks made from 1999 until 2003 for brake line corrosion, GM spokesman Alan Adler told the Detroit News that “brake line wear …

GM Asked to Recall 6 Million Chevy Silverados and Other Vehicles for Brake Corrosion Problem

Mary BarraHere’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.

According to an ongoing investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it has received 890 complaints of brake line corrosion involving 13 crashes and two injuries. From the summary:

In approximately 25 percent of the complaints, the brake pipe failure has allegedly occurred suddenly, with no warning to the driver

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.

According to the survey of 1,000 consumers, nearly 70 percent believe GM engaged in a deliberate cover up.  When asked which of the below choices comes closest to what …

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.

Barra has denied having knowledge of an ignition switch flaw but has not said anything about the steering loss defect, which is a separate problem that affects many of the same vehicles, such as the …