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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Anger Growing About Politically Targeted Chrysler Dealer Closing

The evidence is growing that the President and his Auto task force used the Chrysler dealer closings as a way to reward his supporters and punish his detractors. Through the great investigative work of blogs such as Redstate, Joey Smith, Gateway Pundit, Reboot Congress and Libertarian Republican this is what we know so far:

  • There are two published lists of Chrysler dealerships. One includes the 789 dealers which will be closed by June 9. Those dealers who will be able to retain their franchises and acquire the assets of closing dealers in their areas are on the other. Both are in .PDF format.
  • An attorney for closed dealers deposed Chrysler president Jim Press and said that his impression is that the decisions on which Dealers will stay and which will go really wasn’t Chrysler’s, as the company is under considerable pressure from President Obama’s automotive task force.
  • Among the dealers which were selected to remain in business are a number of outlets owned and operated by a partnership which includes among the partners former Clinton White House chief of staff Mack McLarty and Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET). Both have strong Democrat ties. McLarty campaigned for Obama, and Johnson has contributed heavily to Democrats, including Obama.
  • The latest finding from the closure list is that there appears to be “an extremely high correlation between dealers closing and congressional districts BHO lost”:
Now it seems that anger about this abuse of Presidential power is starting to build, maybe the mainstream media will even pick it up:

Furor grows over partisan car dealer closings
By: Mark Tapscott
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 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.

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.

RedState.com's Josh Painter has a useful roundup of what has been found so far by a growing number of bloggers digging into what could be a very big story indeed. Also, see my column on this issue and how it fits into the larger context dubbed by the Examiner's Michael Barone as "gangster government."

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.

1 comment:

Angie Lee said...

Personally, I always failed to see how closing dealerships (unless they are unprofitable) - specifically, independently owned franchises - is going to help Chrysler or GM. If their goal is to get back on their feet, limiting their power of distribution seems like the LAST step they should be taking.... not to mention the job losses.

On the other hand, it is not a bit surprising that Republicans were targeted as they seem to have been.