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 …

Women’s Museum Asked to Rescind Mary Barra Award; GM CEO Made History ‘of Wrong Kind’

Mary BarraToday I sent the following letter to Dr. Gretchen Green, the Acting Chair of the National Women’s History Museum:

We ask the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) to withdraw its planned award to General Motors CEO Mary Barra.

As you know, Barra is scheduled to receive the Katharine Graham Living Legacy Award on November 17 as part of your annual de Pizan Honors at The Mead Center for American Theater at Arena Stage in Washington, DC.

Barra has indeed made history – of the wrong kind.

Just three months ago, she sat in front of Congressional Committees and desperately tried to avoid answering questions about the negligence and cover up regarding an ignition switch defect. As Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said, “It goes beyond unacceptable. I believe this is criminal.” Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said, “Even under the ‘New GM’ banner, the company waited nine months to take action after …

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’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?…

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

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 …

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.

Although it affects many of the same vehicles, the steering loss is a problem …

Gov’t Conflict of Interest on Chevy Volt Probe?

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica last night discussed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation of the Chevy Volt fires with Gerri Willis on the Fox Business Network. Here’s a transcript:

Gerri Willis:  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, says the Chevy Volt, the controversial electric car the Obama administration has touted as a major step forward, step forward towards a green future is perfectly safe to drive. But does the government have too much of a vested interest in the Volt?  Joining us now is Mark Modica from Philadelphia, of the National Legal and Policy Center associate fellow. Welcome to the show, Mark. It’s great to have you here. Look, we can trust NHTSA on this, right? I mean, they are a federal agency. Do you disagree?

Mark Modica:  Yes, considering that their …

Ethics Group Files FOIA on Chevy Volt Fires

Volt fire photoThe National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) today filed a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for any and all communications with General Motors (GM).

The NHTSA is investigating three fires in the battery packs of GM’s Chevy Volt following collision tests, but may have withheld information of this potential safety problem from the public for several months.

The United States government still owns a significant stake in GM.  There’s an obvious conflict of interest in a government agency investigating a government-owned company. Moreover, the NHTSA cannot be impartial because it has become a cheerleader for electric vehicles. A November 25 NHTSA statement reads, in part:

NHTSA continues to believe that electric vehicles have incredible potential to save consumers money at the pump, help protect the environment, create jobs, and strengthen national security by reducing our dependence on oil.