GM Internal Investigation Does Not Absolve Management of Criminality

Brooke's carThe long-awaited General Motors recall report, which was compiled by attorneys with longstanding and lucrative ties to the company, has been released with few surprises. GM-hired attorneys claim that no high-level executives at the company were responsible for the deadly ignition switch recall delay that cost at least 13 people their lives. The report does nothing to vindicate GM. The company’s management must be investigated by the Justice Department.

The legal team responsible for the “investigation” was headed by Jenner and Block chairman, Anton Valukas. While Mr. Valukas is most often described as a former federal prosecutor by the media, the fact that Jenner and Block are long-time cronies of GM is not often mentioned. The company served as lead counsel for GM during its $15.8 billion IPO. Two former top GM attorneys were also partners at Jenner and Block, as reported by Reuters.

The fact that GM’s current …

Chinese Have Big Plans for Fisker, Which Took US Taxpayers for a Ride

Lu GuanqiuMonths have passed since the saga about the fate of Fisker Automotive ended, which was the stimulus-funded electric vehicle flop that always seemed on the verge of bankruptcy but had a long existence as part of the walking dead.

The inevitable finally happened in November, after Fisker’s executives spent many desperate months traveling the world trying to find a buyer for the struggling company. Apparently blunders and stumbles that included fires, recalls and bad reviews for the only model Fisker ever produced – the Karma – made the business untouchable for outside investors.

It all contributed to an unrelenting run of bad publicity connected to the Department of Energy’s toxic loan program, which provided taxpayer-backed funding for several duds, including now-famous Solyndra. Fisker’s collapse cost the U.S. public $139 million, which is inexcusable considering that founder Henrik Fisker and his colleagues burned through at least $1.4 billion and barely …

Must Someone Die Before GM Recalls Trucks with Rusting Brake Lines?

Mary BarraIt has now been more than two weeks since we sent a letter to General Motors CEO, Mary Barra, requesting a recall for vehicles (primarily Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras) that have thousands of complaints regarding brake line corrosion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has had an ongoing investigation for GM truck model years 1999 through 2003. Considering that new research has discovered newer model trucks with the same problem, just what are GM and NHTSA waiting for to recall these dangerous vehicles?

There have not been any reported deaths attributed to brake failure resulting from corroded brake lines; not yet. But serious injury or death will certainly be the result (if it has not already happened) if these defective vehicles are not taken off the roads.

GM’s initial response to complaints of rusted brake lines that cause drivers to lose braking ability has been …

How Warren Buffett Milks Consumers & Taxpayers Through Wind Energy

Warren Buffett photoIn my previous Special Report titled “The Carnahan Wind Deal,” I documented that wind energy is highly inefficient and requires additional transmission lines and back-up gas generators when the wind doesn’t blow. Yet, windmills keep getting built, thanks to government subsidies.

But it is very hard to trace these subsidies. Vague statements about “tax credits” and “mandates” give no hint of the magnitude of returns that these subsidies provide to crony windmillers. Indeed, in the Carnahan Special Report, we had to burrow into financial statements of a foreign company and its subsidiary to understand where all the money was going.  The principal information was buried in an arcane note to these financial statements.

I had heard that Warren Buffett was a fan of green energy, so when an associate of mine accidentally left a copy of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s 2013 Annual Report on my desk a few weeks ago, I …

Senate Committee Approves Fannie/Freddie Phaseout, But Bill Keeps Government Role

sen-johnson-and-crapoEveryone in Washington favors “reform.” Unfortunately, the term can be highly deceptive. Such is the case of the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014 (S.1217), a bill that would abolish troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in favor of a federally-backed private insurance system. Last Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee approved the measure by a 13-9 vote. Yet the bill, sponsored by Sens. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho (in photo), may never reach the Senate floor – and not undeservedly. For the real problem with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which now are profitable and have more than repaid their federal bailout debt, is not their existence; it is their subjection to tight federal control. The “new” system would retain and even expand this control, while not restoring the rights of shareholders left high and dry.

National Legal and Policy Center several times …

Rangel Campaign Manager Set Up Fake Charity

Rasheida SmithThe 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.

The group was the recipient of $33,000 in taxpayer funds in the form of “members items,” the New York equivalent of earmarks, arranged by former Senator Shirley Huntley, who is now incarcerated for stealing $87,000 from another nonprofit group called the Parents Workshop. Wills served as Huntley’s chief of staff at the …

GM Rusted Brake Line Problem Also Plagues Newer Models

GM brake linesNLPC is requesting that General Motors recall vehicles with a dangerous rusted brake line defect. The request is based on a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation of GM trucks for model years 1999 to 2003 that included Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras. We are also asking NHTSA to order a recall without further delay.

Further investigation finds that NHTSA has received many additional complaints for newer model GM trucks that appear to be afflicted with the same defect.

A search of NHTSA’s website found 112 complaints of corroded brake lines for model year 2006 Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras. It stands to reason that there are many more complaints for model years 2004 and 2005. In fact, I counted 240 complaints for corroded brake lines for the 2004 Chevy Silverado before calling it quits and realizing that there are more than enough documented cases to warrant an …

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 …

Space Launch Deal Puts Spotlight on Revolving Door

Correll photoWashington’s metaphorical “revolving door” keeps on spinning. A recent case involving a former Air Force procurement official is at the center of a high-stakes dispute over the launching of rockets into space, and the huge contracts that go with them.

From March 2011 to January of this year, Roger “Scott” Correll (in photo) was the official at the Pentagon responsible for procuring launch services from private companies. One of his last official acts before his “retirement” in January was to oversee a deal with a company called United Launch Alliance (ULA) for a whopping 36 future launches. ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed.

This month, Correll popped up with a new job with Aerojet Rocketdyne, which just happens to supply rocket engines to ULA. His title is Vice President for Government Acquisition and Policy, seemingly more than befitting of his role.

Granted, there are not a lot …

GM Resists Brake Corrosion Recall; Trots Out Controversial Spokesman

Alan AdlerGM’s initial response to our request yesterday for a recall of vehicles with a brake corrosion problem is completely unacceptable. It was contained in a Detroit News article about our call for the carmaker to recall 6 million pickups and SUVs that are the subject of an open investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

GM spokesman Alan Adler, in photo, claimed that the brake corrosion problem is industry-wide, and suggested it was a normal wear-and-tear issue. He told the News:

The trucks in question are long out of factory warranty and owners manuals urge customers to have their brake lines inspected the same way brake pads need replacement for wear. In fact, more than 20 states require brake-line inspections at one- or two-year intervals or when stopped for a violation.

Adler is the same GM spokesman who made outrageous and inaccurate claims when the ignition switch …

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