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?… Read More ➡

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 … Read More ➡

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 … Read More ➡

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

Read More ➡

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.

Wills was chief-of staff to former State Senator Shirley Huntley when she arranged for “member items,” the New York State equivalent of an earmark, to Wills’ group.  He apparently took a page out of Huntley’s book.

Huntley was arrested in 2012 after a New York Post story, based on information provided by NLPC, detailed how she siphoned off money for personal use from a group that she founded called The Parents Workshop, for which she … Read More ➡

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 … Read More ➡

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 … Read More ➡

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:

Bright joined Corker’s office in 2010, and has been a key figure in crafting the Corker-Warner housing reform bill and the successive legislation spearheaded by Sens. Mike Crapo (R., Idaho) and Tim Johnson (D., S.D.).

The Corker-Warner bill has been criticized by ethics groups and free-market advocates for preserving a federal role in the secondary mortgage market, again putting taxpayers on the hook for losses.

Also … Read More ➡

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.

“I finally heard back from Congressman Rangel’s office and it seems we haven’t gotten the signed lease back because they lost it!” OGS real-estate specialist Sydney Allen wrote in a July 30, 2013, e-mail to a colleague that was ­obtained by The Post.

Rangel paid $7,253 in monthly rent on the 125th Street office he has rented since 2000, expense reports from 2012 show. But the payments stopped for all of 2013.

And the reaction of the New York state government, which is … Read More ➡

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.

The 2009 auto industry bailout meant goodbye to the “Old GM” and ushered in the “New GM.” The GM bankruptcy agreement granted legal immunity to the automaker for all incidents prior to … Read More ➡