WASHINGTON D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Darrell Issa today asked nine auto CEOs to answer questions about the relationship between “secret negotiations” with the Obama Administration on setting greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standards under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and government aid to the auto industry including the use of government ownership stakes in Chrysler and GM.
“It is unclear whether the Administration used leverage created by the possibility of a taxpayer bailout of GM and Chrysler to secure their cooperation and support for new fuel economy standards. Moreover, there is reason to believe Administration officials used inappropriate tactics to ensure broad based support across the industry,” wrote Issa and Smith. “Given the clear conflict-of-interest issues at play, which naturally arise when the government is in a position to pick winners and losers and impact the future viability of private entities, it was imperative that the Administration act with the utmost transparency. Instead, the White House imposed an unprecedented level of secrecy.”
According to one participant to these negotiations, the President’s Environment and Energy Czar, Carol Browner, imposed a vow of silence over the negotiations that included representatives from Chrysler and General Motors (GM), the United Autoworkers, and California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The White House has steadfastly refused to respond to two previous letters asking whether the Energy and Environment Czar violated the mandates of the Presidential Records Act when she orchestrated the secret negotiations.
Click here to read an example of the letters sent to the CEOs of General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Toyota North America, BMW North America, Volkswagen of America, Nissan North America, American Suzuki, and American Honda. The letter requests a response by May 5, 2010.