May 28 2009
Major Update: Two US Senators are now asking for details on the decision process – one from each party!
U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill and Kit Bond wrote a letter Friday to President Barack Obamaâ€™s auto task force seeking answers to concerns raised byÂ ChryslerÂ andÂ General MotorsÂ dealerships in Missouri that learned last week their contracts will be terminated.
Auto dealers statewide have expressed frustration to McCaskill and Bond about the lack of information they have received from Chrysler and GM, saying they didnâ€™t know the criteria used to make the contract termination decisions.
The two Missouri senators asked the task force for the criteria used to determine how many and which dealerships would be terminated, as well as the process for dealerships to appeal decisions.
That is good news. Now the news media will have to report on the story – it is bipartisan after all. – end update
The Obama administration’s heavy handed foray into the corporate world of the automakers is rapidly turning into a Class A scandal. More news is out today on the questionable process used to determine which dealerships would be closed and which ones would reap the remaining business:
Evidence appears to be mounting that the Obama administration has systematically targeted for closing Chrysler dealers who contributed to Repubicans. What started earlier this week as mainly a rumbling on the Right side of the Blogosphere has gathered some steam todayÂ with revelations that among the dealers being shut down are a GOPÂ congressman and closing ofÂ competitors to a dealership chain partly owned by former Clinton WhiteÂ House chief of staff MackÂ McLarty.
Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan learned from a House colleague that his Venice, Florida, dealership isÂ onÂ the hit list. Buchanan also has a Nissan franchise paired with the Chrysler facility in Venice.
“It’s an outrage. It’s not about me. I’m going to be fine,” said Buchanan, the dealership’s majority owner. “You’re talking over 100,000 jobs. We’re supposed to be in the business of creating jobs, not killing jobs,” Buchanan toldÂ News 10, a local Florida television station.
When Â 100,000+ jobs are being eliminated, apparently based on political cronyism and who donated to which party, there needs to be an investigation into the process used by the Obama administration to determine which dealers would be closed down and which would reap the rewards by surviving.
The basic issue raised here is this: How do we account for the fact millions of dollars were contributed to GOP candidates by Chrysler who are being closed by the government, butÂ only one has been found so farÂ that is being closed that contributed to the Obama campaign in 2008?
A lawyer representing a groupÂ ofÂ Â Chrysler dealers who are on the hit list deposed senior Chrysler executives and later toldÂ ReutersÂ that heÂ believes the closings have been forced on the company by the White House
As part of Chrysler’s bankruptcy agreement with the White House, the company plans toÂ close roughly a quarter of its 3,200 dealerships.Â Â Lists of the dealerships being cut and those retaining their Chrysler franchises can be foundÂ hereÂ in pdf format.Â Many dealersÂ contendÂ the criteria being used to determineÂ which dealerships survive is not clear and that many of those that are being closed in factÂ are profitable businesses, despite the current recession.Â
There is only one way to determine whether politics played a role here. The US Congress needs to investigate how the decisions were made. The American people deserve to know who decided to close the dealerships and what the criteria was. We don’t need to be closing profitable dealers and tossing people out of jobs. That is NOT what the federal government is sanctioned to do by the US Constitution. In fact, the Constitution clearly states our rights, including the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness. The federal government is chartered to protect these rights, not remove them on a whim or because of political payments.
And if the Democrat Congress will not take up their constitutional charge, then the courts need to get involved and ASAP.Â
This is the perfect test of Obama’s transparent government pledge. Let’s open the books, notes, memos, directions and meeting attendee lists to public scrutiny. Let’s get the people involved questioned under oath. Let’s do what should have been done and make sure that we are protecting the rights of Americans and not stomping on them so some rich Democrat elites can make even more money.
Update: From one of the links above:
Now, and this is important,Â Chrysler claimed that its formula for determining whether a dealership should close or not included “sales volume, customer service scores, local market share and average household incomeÂ in the immediate area.”
DealerÂ Jim Anderer told Fox News’ Neil CavutoÂ he can’t comprehend how his dealership can be among those killed: he stated that his sales volume ranking is in the top 2 percent of all dealers.
Furthermore, Anderer says explanations aren’t forthcoming. “They won’t tell us. They seem to be running for cover right now because they won’t give us a solid explanation. They come up with all these reasons, but none of them seem to make sense… This is insanity. The government is stealing my business. And they’re telling me there’s nothing I can do about it… There was no process that you could put your finger on and say, ‘Hey, we cut 25 percent of the lowest performing dealers.’ They didn’t do that. Nobody will give us a real clear explanation of the formula that they came up with.”Â
Answers MUST be forthcoming and there needs to be a full investigation with people under oath. The fact the answers keep changing is a clear sign there is something behind this story.Â More outrage noted here:
Increasing numbers of Chrysler dealers are disputing the bankrupt automakerâ€™s claim that it selected dealerships for closure on purely economic grounds, and they have filed a suit against the automaker in U.S. bankruptcy court.
“My business is being stolen from me under the guise of the bankruptcy laws [and] given to another dealer down the street,” Jim Anderer, owner of Island Jeep in Lindenhurst, N.Y., told Reuters.
Other prominent Republican donors whose successful Chrysler dealerships will be shut down include Russ Darrow, owner of Darrow Chrysler Jeep of Menomenee Falls, Wis. Darrow spent $2.7 million of his own money to finance an unsuccessful challenge to incumbent Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin in 2004.
Time to get the lawyers involved. My previous post on this breaking scandal is here.
Update: Someone has put together details on donations from shuttered dealers and their donations. Have no idea to the veracity of this info.
Update: Gateway Pundit has some intel on the Obama folks who where possibly in on the closing decisions.
The task force, headed by investment banker Steven Rattner, is comprised of Cabinet members and Obama administration officials who have extensive backgrounds in finance. They include Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Ray LaHood is probably the best person to start questioning since I believe he is a Republican.