by John Hawkins | May 28, 2009 11:12 am
What Obama is doing with the auto industry is not politics as usual; it’s the sleaziest, crookedest, most underhanded use of the federal government since the Teapot Dome Scandal in the 1920s. Barack Obama is using billions of dollars of your money to give his political allies in the unions control of Chrysler and it looks like he’s also deliberately putting Republican car dealerships out of business.
This is, “You give me money, so I will put you in charge of Chrysler.” It also appears that this is, “You’re a Chrysler dealer who gave me money, so I will put your competition that didn’t, out of business.”
If that’s what’s going on — and the early indications point that way — it’s un-American, it’s corrupt, it undermines the rule of law, and I think it’s entirely possible that it’s criminal. Here’s the latest on what’s happening with Chrysler car dealerships,
Evidence appears to be mounting that the Obama administration has systematically targeted for closing Chrysler dealers who contributed to Republicans. What started earlier this week as mainly a rumbling on the Right side of the Blogosphere has gathered some steam today with revelations that among the dealers being shut down are a GOP congressman and closing of competitors to a dealership chain partly owned by former Clinton White House chief of staff Mack McLarty.
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, but only one has been found so far that is being closed that contributed to the Obama campaign in 2008?
Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan learned from a House colleague that his Venice, Florida, dealership is on 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 told News 10, a local Florida television station.
Buchanan, who succeeded former Rep. Katharine Harris in 2006, reportedly learned of his dealership’s termination from Rep.Candace Miller, R-MI. Buchanan owns a total of 23 dealerships in Florida and North Carolina.
Also fueling the controversy is the fact the RLJ-McCarty-Landers chain of Arkansas and Missouri dealerships aren’t being closed, but many of their local competitors are being eliminated. Go here for a detailed look at this situation. McClarty is the former Clinton senior aide. The “J” is Robert Johnson, founder of the Black Entertainment Television, a heavy Democratic contributor.
A lawyer representing a group of Chrysler dealers who are on the hit list deposed senior Chrysler executives and later told Reuters that he believes the closings have been forced on the company by the White House.
“It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers. It really wasn’t Chrysler’s decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President’s automotive task force,” said attorney Leonard Bellavia.
…As part of Chrysler’s bankruptcy agreement with the White House, the company plans to close roughly a quarter of its 3,200 dealerships. Lists of the dealerships being cut and those retaining their Chrysler franchises can be found here in pdf format. Many dealers contend the criteria being used to determine which dealerships survive is not clear and that many of those that are being closed in fact are profitable businesses, despite the current recession.
At a minimum, there should be a congressional investigation into this and there should be a special prosecutor appointed to determine whether members of the Obama Administration are misappropriating taxpayer funds to reward campaign contributors.
PS: To the best of my knowledge, Doug Ross is the person who originally broke this story and I wanted to give him the credit for that.
Update #1: The blog Fivethirtyeight did some research and found that the owners of these car dealership tend to tilt heavily Republican. By their estimation, it was more than 7-to-1. That is a fair point and definitely something worth considering.
However, even those skewed numbers don’t actually explain the scope of what’s happening,
The listed franchise owners contributed at least $450,000 to Republican presidential candidates and the GOP, while only $7,970 was donated to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign and $2,200 was given to Sen. John Edwards’ campaign.
Obama received a combined total of only $450 in donations — $250 from dealer Jane Baldock in Wenatchee, Wash., and $200 from Waco, Texas, dealer Jeffrey Hunter.
Nor do those numbers explain why profitable dealerships run by Republicans are being closed.
Is Obama protecting his donors and prominent Democrats? Is he closing Republican car dealerships that compete with his donors? Are prominent Republicans or people who gave a lot of money to Republicans being targeted despite the fact that they own profitable dealerships?
It’s going to be impossible to know that information without a full investigation and given what we know at this point, it’s certainly merited. Of course, if Obama is engaged in this sort of corruption, all his talk about “transparency” from the campaign will mean nothing and he’ll fight an investigation tooth and nail.
* The title was changed to better reflect the thrust of the story.
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