U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 5, 2014) — Following a briefing by General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra—ahead of the release of an internal investigation conducted by former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas in relation to the defective ignition switches linked to at least 13 deaths, including a fatality in Missouri—U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, Chairman of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee, announced that she will hold a follow-up hearing later this summer, and released the following statement:
“I’m going to reserve judgment until I can take a closer look at the report—which I expect to find comprehensive and thorough—and I’m looking forward to getting a full briefing from Mr. Valukas. I won’t be letting GM leadership, or federal regulators, escape accountability for these tragedies. That’s why I’ll be holding a follow-up hearing later this summer to address unanswered questions. The families of those affected deserve no less.”
Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that GM agreed to pay a record $35 million civil penalty and comply with additional oversight requirements as a result of findings from NHTSA’s timeliness investigation regarding the defective switches. As part of the settlement, set forth in a Consent Order signed with NHTSA, GM agreed to provide NHTSA with full access to the results of GM’s internal investigation into this recall, to take steps to ensure its employees report safety-related concerns to management, and to speed up the process for GM to decide whether to recall vehicles.
McCaskill had previously responded to GM’s decision to put two engineers on leave as they were conducting the internal investigation. Following the announcement, GM indicated that employees Gary Altman and Ray DeGiorgio are among those who have been dismissed from the company. DeGiorgio is the engineer who GM CEO Mary Barra acknowledged—during questioning from McCaskill—may have lied under oath about ordering replacement switches in 2006 without properly reporting.
McCaskill also issued a statement reacting to NHTSA’s announcement that it would be issuing GM a fine of $7,000 per day for every day the company failed to provide answers to all 107 questions in the agency's request to the company—questions about the faulty ignition switches. In addition to the $35 million civil penalty, the Consent Order from last month continued to fine GM $7,000 a day beginning April 4, 2014 and ending today, when GM provided the final report of its internal investigation.
McCaskill accused GM of having a “culture of cover-up” at a hearing in her Consumer Protection Subcommittee in April. McCaskill grilled witnesses on GM’s decisions over more than 10 years to not issue a safety recall—despite the fact that engineers discovered the problem in 2004—and questioned whether NHTSA has the capability, data, and resources to effectively monitor vehicle safety defects.
Read more about McCaskill’s fight to protect American consumers HERE
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