Yesterday both the CEOs of General Motors and Delphi met with lawmakers in Washington regarding the ignition switch recall. Despite GM’s mea culpa, past and present, lawmakers were quick to take GM to task.
According to The New York Times, Barra said General Motors “will not expand its compensation program for victims. The company will not waive its protection from lawsuits gained in bankruptcy reorganization. It will not share more documents from its internal investigation.”
Among General Motors’ harshest critics in past months, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) wasn’t placated. In response to Barra, he said, “You’ve provided answers that, I think, for me are unsatisfactory.
Added Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), “I consider it a cover-up when a manufacturer does not respond fully and accurately.”
Additionally, despite calls from several senators, Barra does not plan to dismiss General Motors’ general counsel, Michael Millikin. “Michael Millikin is a man of incredibly high integrity. He’s the person I need on this team.”
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) responded, “It is clear that the culture of lawyering up and Whac-a-Mole to minimize liabilities in individual lawsuits killed customers of General Motors.” She feels the failure under Millikin’s leadership is “stunning” and wondered how he could not be aware that his staff knew of lawsuits about defective ignition switches that has resulted in deaths. Millikin had said he did not know about the switch problems until after the recall was ordered in February.
Lawmakers were are also upset about a Tuesday article in The New York Times that showed General Motors responding to “death inquiries” from regulators about deadly accidents by saying that it did not know the cause when the automaker actually had determined a likely cause. It was reported that GM rebuffed several inquiries. Barra has promised to review all future death inquiries with GM’s chief safety officer, Jeff Boyer. “It will be his responsibility to bring those to me.”