Who decided which Chrysler dealers to close?
Washington is always full of conspiracy theories — one of the latest surrounds the decision to close hundreds of Chrysler dealerships following the automaker’s slide into bankruptcy.
Conservatives want to know whether dealerships with Republican ties were targeted by the Obama administration.
Some are seizing on a Reuters article. In it, a lawyer who represents some of the terminated dealers said after a deposition with Chrysler President Jim Press that the automaker did not make the decision.
“It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers,” said lawyer Leonard Bellavia. “It really wasn’t Chrysler’s decision. They are under enormous pressure from the president’s automotive task force.”
But there’s more.
Conservative blogger Doug Ross said he discovered that most of the dealerships to be shuttered had given campaign funds almost exclusively to Republicans and very little to Democrats.
However, as with all conspiracy theories, there is the denial, both from Chrysler and the Obama administration.
Chrysler said in the Reuters article that it made the decisions based on location, customer satisfaction and sales potential. The company also noted that almost half of the targeted dealerships sell other brands of cars and most rely on used vehicle sales for their business.
The White House denied suggestions that the Autos Task Force was involved in deciding which dealerships would be closed and expanded that denial to include production plants.
“The president’s task force on autos did not pick individual dealerships,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said during Thursday’s daily briefing in Washington. “It isn’t involved in picking what plants may or may not be closed.”
Asked if there was any concern about the possibility of politics tainting the decisions, Gibbs issued a broad denial.
“Let me reiterate that we don’t make those decisions,” he said. “Chrysler makes those decisions. So I’m sure you can send Chrysler the address of the blog that you refer to.”
– Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (A Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealership in suburban Washington, D.C.)