Partisan Chrysler closings story growing
This is developing into a political scandal for the Obama administration. This is one that cannot be blamed on Bush. One of the things that is giving the story legs is the lack of any objective criteria in deciding which ones to close and the "coincidence" of the political leanings of those who were closed.
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.
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.
Since the Democrats control Congress they may have thought they could control the story, but with the transparency of political contributions and the interest of conservative bloggers and media, this story is liable to spin out of control of Obama and his media fellow travelers. It is time for someone to ask Gibbs about it at the daily news briefings.
Fox did mention the story last night on Special Report, which means it is on their radar, and they are probably in the best position to ask questions of the administration.
The story is another example of what can happen when politicians control businesses.