Free Markets, Free People

Closing Dealerships Via Barack-Foolery?

I watched this story percolate throughout the day, wondering if there was anything of substance to it. Even now I’m not entirely sure how much is pure speculation and how much can be decisively proven. If any of it turns out to be true, however, then the repercussions could prove politically fatal. Doug Ross has the scoop:

A tipster alerted me to an interesting assertion. A cursory review by that person showed that many of the Chrysler dealers on the closing list were heavy Republican donors.

To quickly review the situation, I took all dealer owners whose names appeared more than once in the list. And, of those who contributed to political campaigns, every single one had donated almost exclusively to GOP candidates. While this isn’t an exhaustive review, it does have some ominous implications if it can be verified.

However, I also found additional research online at Scribd (author unknown), which also appears to point to a highly partisan decision-making process.

[...]

I have thus far found only a single Obama donor (and a minor one at that: $200 from Jeffrey Hunter of Waco, Texas) on the closing list.

Chrysler claimed that its formula for determining whether a dealership should close or not included “sales volume, customer service scores, local market share and average household income in the immediate area.”

In fact, there may have been other criteria involved: politics may have played a part. If this data can be validated, it would appear to be further proof that the Obama administration is willing to step over any line to advance its agenda.

Doug notes some anecdotal evidence to back up his theory, and reading through the various personal accounts from dealerships who claim to be successful, and yet who are being shut down, lends some credibility to the idea. As does the fact that the closing list is reportedly populated almost exclusively with Republican donors and/or those who gave money to Obama’s Democratic rivals. But the real test is in a comparison of the lists of dealerships staying open and those that are closing against a campaign donor database (which I haven’t done, but feel free to scrutinize them for yourself).

Nevertheless, the following bit of research from Red State strikes an ominous chord:

Eric Dondero recognizes some of the dealers’ names on the hit list:

“Vern Buchanan is a Republican Congressman from the Tampa Bay area. Robert Archer is the son of former Republican Congressman Bill Archer. John Culberson, a libertarian-leaning Conservative, is now the Congressman for that West Houston District. He was heavily supported in his election efforts by the Archers Family.”

“Additionally, James Crowley, owner of a Chrysler Dealership in Escondido, California is on the list to be closed. Crowley is a big backer of libertarian-leaning Republican Cong. John Campbell of Orange County.”

The list is heavy with influential Republicans and libertarians. Another name on the list is Ray Huffines, who owns a large dealerhsip in the Metro-Dallas/Ft. Worth area. The Huffines family have been major contributors to Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) over the years.

It’s hard to know what to make of all this, but at first blush it certainly looks like the decisions to close dealerships may have been influenced by the political affiliations of the dealers. Under regular circumstances that would elicit a big shrug, but when Chrysler’s decisions are basically being made for them, well, that’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish (via Reliapundit):

A lawyer for Chrysler dealers facing closure as part of the automaker’s bankruptcy reorganization said on Tuesday he believes Chrysler executives do not support a plan to eliminate a quarter of its retail outlets.

Lawyer Leonard Bellavia, of Bellavia Gentile & Associates, who represents some of the terminated dealers, said he deposed Chrysler President Jim Press on Tuesday and came away with the impression that Press did not support the plan.

“It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers,” Bellavia said. “It really wasn’t Chrysler’s decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President’s automotive task force.”

Given the other sorts of thuggery that have been alleged in these Chrysler proceedings, this should come as no shock. But the fact that these closings will have to be approved by the creditors in the bankruptcy case lends a certain bit of intrigue to this case and raises a lot questions in my mind.

Assuming that the closings are motivated by political payback from Obama, how will that plan affect the stakeholders in the new company? If there really are profitable dealerships being shutdown just because they gave money to the wrong candidates, then it stands to reason that the remaining dealers will be something less than the cream of the crop, and therefore the new Chrysler will have a less than optimal distribution chain for its products. It’s not entirely clear why shutting down dealerships helps Chrysler anyway, since they are essentially the real customers of the carmaker, but it seems to me that those who plan to profit from the new venture would have something to say about the plan in the bankruptcy case. Presumably, they will want to protect their investment by challenging any plan for closings that does not maximize their return. If and when they do, it could get very interesting for Obama (again, assuming that any of this is true).

It should be noted that until some further confirmation surfaces, this story should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism. Indeed, if it weren’t for the rather dictatorial way the Obama administration has dealt with the entire automaker bailout fiasco, these allegations of political payback would ring pretty hollow. Yet, considering the past bullying, the story definitely merits further consideration, so keep your eyes and ears open for more.

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24 Responses to Closing Dealerships Via Barack-Foolery?

  • ” If any of it turns out to be true, however, then the repercussions could prove politically fatal.”

    Why? 

    a) even if it’s true, it will never be reported.
    b) even if it’s reported, most people simply won’t care. 
    c) even if people care, there’s nothing that can be done.   In a month this controversy will be forgotten, just like the porkulus bill.

    Liberals can do anything they want, and never suffer political consequences for it.  They can commit voter fraud on a massive scale, and nothing happens.  They can methodically wreck huge swathes of the economy, and nothing happens.  They can commit bribery and extortion, and nothing happens.  Hell, they can commit high treason, and nothing happens.   Something as minor as this doesn’t even register on the corruption-meter.  

    Prove me wrong.  Go ahead, just try.

  • I am not sceptical at all, It sounds exactly like the Democrat way of doing things.

    • Actually the Chicago way, which is a more nasty form of the democratic way.

  • After all, he’s keeping score.

  •  I would like someone to run this same analysis against those staying open to see what their political leanings are.

  • Speak of the devil, their is already a blog dedicated to this analysis: http://chryslerdealershipshutdown.blogspot.com/2009/05/rjl-mccarty-landers-information.html

  • no matter the political outcome, this is infuriating, what problem does a dealer pose to Chrysler? This is simply Obama picking winners and losers again, entrepreneurship be damned, this is disconcerting.

  • Hes definitely not saving any jobs here either lol.  GO STIMULUS!

  • It should be noted that until some further confirmation surfaces, this story should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism.

    Oh, come on.  What’s the fun in that?  Why should you go half-heart conspiracy theorists?  It would be much more fun to watch you drive this Plymouth right into a brick wall.
    Yeah, join up with the likes of the RedState Strike Force and geniuses like Pam, Ace, and Rob.  Please, Michael… consider it a birthday present to me.  MmmK?

    Boy, you know the rest of the Rightosphere is flying off the rails when it’s Michelle Malkin who is the one holding on.

    But I would caution against getting carried away with “Nixon enemies list” rhetoric until a thorough vetting of the dealers on the list is done — which may take a while, but can definitely be expedited through the same kind of crowd-sourcing that has already taken place.

    Fact is: Some of the GOP dealers on the list don’t deserve a whole hell of a lot of sympathy. Or my tax dollars.

    Here are two examples from my own cursory review of the Republican donors listed by other bloggers:
    Florida GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan is on the list. What no one has mentioned, though, is that he has a record of financial shadiness and his dealerships have been embroiled in fraud lawsuits.

    Then there’s Illinois/Missouri car dealer James Auffenberg, Jr., who was recently acquitted by a Virgin Islands jury in a massive tax and wire fraud case — but still may face civil action to collect millions in alleged unpaid taxes.

    And I just happen to recognize from RedState’s “research” a Robert Archer of Houston.  Now it wouldn’t happen to be the same Robert Archer who owns the notorious Archer Dodge would it?  The same Robert Archer that I’ve had dealings with and know many who also have and shared the same extreme dissatisfaction with?  I think it might be.  And it wouldn’t be the fact that his dealership is known to have poor service and high prices, would it?
    Noooo, it’s the measly $4600 he gave to “GOP and conservative causes” that got him on the list.

    CONSPIRACY!!!

    And how about this obviuosness.

    One more point about the political correlation: It may just be that more Republican-leaning businessmen than Democrat-leaning ones gravitate toward the car dealership business to begin with, which could explain the apparent disproportionate partisan impact.

    Duh.
    Why would it surprise anyone that these individual owners of typically multi-million dollar business would mostly find their favor with Republicans?

    There is plenty to harp about the Obama/Chrysler fiasco.  Yes, yes… the Constitution, precedent, law, ideology…  BORING.
    No, watching the Chrysler Truthers… Now that’s what’s going to be fun.

    Cheers.

     

    • Let me get this straight, Pogue:  you’re upset because no one here is overreacting?

    • Y’know, you’re right, Pogue.  Clearly the best path here is stick our fingers in our ears, close our eyes, and say nothing.  It is St. Barack we’re dealing with after all, and everyone knows that he is above partisan politics.  Hope and Change!

    • I don’t understand either, what exactly is your beef me Pogue? Looking at a developing story and reserving the right to be skeptical is not a problem as far as i can see. Comparing it to the overwhelming evidence against 911 truthers is a little silly.

      • You misunderstand.
        There is no beef.  I’m not upset.

        No, this is akin to watching a school of fish chase after a shiny, twirling lure and wondering how badly they are about to be hooked.

        To say that one should have a healthy skepticism towards this “scoop”, as Michael puts it, would be in my opinion not cautious enough.  To call this speculation would be too generous.
        And what should be obvious, and as jpm100 points out below, a vast majority of dealership owners would find their political favor with the Republicans.  The categorical deduction would be that if most dealerships are Republicans, then most of the dealerships to be closed would naturally be of a Republican persuasion.

        As it stands now, this is nothing but a conspiracy theory, and should be treated as such.

        But hey, keep digging if you like.  Keep swimming after that lure.
        And if someone finds something, … then that would be something.  But until then, I’ve got my popcorn handy.

        Oh, and btw, as you may have noticed, the term “truther”, much like the hotel Watergate is synonymous with scandal, has been adopted by many to describe any crazy conspiracy theory.  Of course it would be silly to compare this to the 9/11 truthers.

        Cheers.

  • Careful.   The automotive industry, including dealer contribute to republicans 3:1 over democrats.

    Here’s the breakdown for lobbying.  Can’t find this detail for compaign contributions.

    http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=T2300

    You have to look at the mix of those that got the boot an see if it deviates a lot from 75% republican and 25% democrat contributions. 

    • Yep, a comparison of open and closed dealers needs to be made. It isn’t like small buisness or other productive members of society tend to be Democrats.

  • The only way this story sticks is if a White House insider spills the beans, if there are beans to spill.

    My stereotypical view of a typical dealer is a businessman that wants the government to butt out.  I feel this way too, and I have a lot in common with these guys.  

  • I think it is more a matter of protecting local supporters rather than going after evil rethuglicans.

    Either, it works out to the same thing.

  • I just found this interesting tidbit of information on another blog  (which has asked to remain anonymous until this information can be verified):

    ALL of the closing car dealerships are owned by people.  Does Obama have a closet dislike of people? This could jeopardize his political capital!

  • I am puzzled about why they need to shut down these dealers in the first place. It seems to me that if they aren’t selling any cars they will put themselves out of business. If they are selling cars, why does Chrysler need to shut them down? But then again, that would be a market-based solution, and we certainly can’t have that! Markets are so imperfect, dontcha know.

  • Obama thinks he’s Tony Soprano now- strong-arming legitimate, legal rights and claims from hedge funds… mafia-style, including union death-threats… so he could hand 55% of Chrysler over to the UAW, who donated $5M to his campaign.
    If that’s not stealing, I don’t know what is… it doesn’t matter how much you dislike hedge funds.
    Now he’s destroying the evil capitalists that didn’t support his fraudulent, disingenuous campaign?
    The White House says there’s “no evidence”- note that Hitler was careful to only give verbal orders, too… and Obama’s not new to this sort of thing.
    Obama’s completely out-of-control. But what did anyone expect with a neutered press, compliant congress, and cabinet full of sycophants?
    http://reaganiterepublicanresistance.blogspot.com

  • Has it not occured to anyone that if Obama was really just out for political revenge, he would not have put a Bush supporter and campaign worker for several Republicans in charge of the Chrysler board? Or has nobody in this conspiracy looked at C. Robert Kidder’s background? 

    I saw in most of these posts the claim that all but one of the dealers had donated to Republicans. Now it appears that just 39 of them have donated at all, and eight of those donated to Democrats. The story is changing quite a bit, yet nobody seems to be looking at the integrity of the lawyer and Congressman who started this story – with lies.

    If you’re gonna dump on Obama, shouldn’t you do it for something he did, instead of screwing up your credibility by repeating lies?