It’s important to note that Chrysler’s leadership did not want these closings. This is being orchestrated by Obama’s automotive task force:
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.”
Who heads up the automotive task force? Steven Rattner, who, earlier this spring, reportedly berated the head of a non-TARP Chrysler hedge fund with this outburst:
Who the f*** do you think you’re dealing with? We’ll have the IRS audit your fund. Every one of your employees. Your investors. Then we will have the Securities and Exchange Commission rip through your books looking for anything and everything and nothing we find to destroy you with.
World Net Daily took a look at all of the dealerships on the closing list:
WND reviewed the list of 789 closing franchises and databases of political donors and found that of dealership majority owners making contributions in the November 2008 election, less than 10 percent gifted to Democrats while 90 percent gave substantial sums to Republican candidates. The listed franchise owners contributed at least $450,000 to Republican presidential candidates and the GOP, while only $7,970 was donated to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign and $2,200 was given to Sen. John Edwards’ campaign. Obama received a combined total of only $450 in donations – $250 from dealer Jane Baldock in Wenatchee, Wash., and $200 from Waco, Texas, dealer Jeffrey Hunter. Many of the majority owners who donated to Republican campaigns last year also contributed additional thousands to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 2004 and to help elect GOP representatives.
Many people have wondered if these numbers simply reflect an overwhelming Republican leaning in car dealers. The stats for the dealerships remaining open are still being researched, but Doug Ross has found one company that kept popping up on the list of dealerships remaining open.
The company is RLJ-McLarty-Landers, which owns six Chrysler dealerships. All six dealerships are on “the safe list.” RLJ’s owners “are Steve Landers (long-time car dealer, 4th-generation dealer), Thomas “Mack” McLarty (former Chief of Staff for President Clinton), and Robert Johnson (founder of Black Entertainment Television and co-owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats)… McLarty campaigned for Obama in 2008, and Johnson has given countless amounts of money to Democrats over the years.“
Go take a look at all of these RLJ dealerships and the surrounding dealerships that are being shuttered. Ross asks…what are the odds?
What are the Odds?
All other factors being equal, what are the odds that RLJ’s dealerships would remain open while all other area dealerships would be shuttered? The approximate odds of such an occurrence can be calculated. 789 of the Chrysler’s dealerships are closing, which represents 25% of the total (according to MSNBC). Recall that 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.” Thus, the odds that any, randomly selected, single dealership would remain open is roughly 75%. The odds that a single dealership would close is roughly 25%. In the Bentonville, AR territory, the odds that RLJ would remain while its competition gets axed is .75 * .25 * .25 = .046875 (4.6%). In Huntsville, AL, the odds are .75 * .25 * .25 = .046875. In Branson, MO, .75 * .25 *.25 *.25 = .01171875. In Lee’s Summit, MO, .75 * .25 *.25 *.25 *.25 = .0029296875. In Shreveport, LA, .75 * .25 *.75 = .140625.
What are the odds of all of these RLJ dealerships remaining open while their competitors are wiped out? Maybe 1/10,000,000 of 1%. Yes, that’s one ten-millionth of one percent.
Chrysler Dealership Campaign Donation Information continues to investigate the dealerships that remain open. I wouldn’t count on the MSM to get this story out, but the lawyers for the closed dealerships should be mighty interested. UPDATE: NTDTV covered a dealer protest over Chrysler’s termination plans:
What (Lawyer Leonard) Bellavia and his representees want to know, is why them? Bellavia and the protesters believe that US government’s task force initiated the terminations…and not Chrysler.
UPDATE II (May 28):
Gateway Pundit is on this story: Hope & Change– Car Czar Behind Chrysler Closings Married to Former Dem Party Leader
Car Czar Steve Rattner and wife Maureen White, who is the former National Finance Chair of Democratic Party. Rattner and his Auto Task Force decided on which dealerships would close and which would stay open.
** Earlier it was reported that the Obama Administration may have targeted GOP donors in deciding which Chrysler dealerships would have to close their doors. ** Later it was discovered that a Big Dem Donor Group was allowed to keep all 6 Chrysler dealerships open…. And, their local competitors were eliminated. ** The Auto Task Force, which includes Obama cabinet members, is reportedly calling the shots on which dealerships will close and stay open. ** Steven Rattner leads The Auto Task Force and is married to the former National Finance Chair of Democratic Party, Maureen White. ** The closings in several instances appear to benefit Dem donating dealers where local GOP-linked dealerships were closed. ** Even Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla) lost his Chrysler dealership in Florida and found out from a colleague on the House floor. ** Lithia Motor Group’s owners gave $15,000 to two Democrat candidates and support nationalized healthcare. They will likely lose just two of 29 dealerships and gain 5 more. ** One report claims the odds that these Chrysler closings occurred without partisan bias are less than 1%. ** After closing the 789 dealerships Chrysler announced that they are already looking to open new franchises.
Mark Tapscott at the Washington Examiner looks at the *most car dealers Republican* argument:
…two points should be noted here. First, even if we accept the proposition that most car dealers are more likely to be Republican than Democratic donors, there would still be a “disparate impact” from closings on one class of dealers, compared to the other. When the federal courts see a disparate impact on racial groups, the policy or action in question is typically held to be inappropriate. Race and car dealer closings, of course, aren’t analogous. But the lesson remains that when government makes economic decisions that ought to be left to the private market, it is impossible to avoid disparate impacts. And there is always the question of would the Obama White House be so quick to close hundreds of dealerships if the owners of those dealerships were predominantly Democratic donors? Second, since neither Chrysler, nor the White House have made public the criteria used to select dealers for elimination – and because a significant number of those being closed were profitable – the only way to resolve the inevitable controversy about political considerations in political decisions is to make the criteria public and allow independent outside observers to assess how those criteria were applied. I’m not holding my breath on the likelihood of that happening any time soon.
Mike Sargent at Newsbusters is looking at the media angle – Chrysler Conservatives Axed – Only Blogs Investigate:
The odds are massively against this pattern emerging – to the tune of 1/10,000,000 of 1% [h/t Doug Ross]. By comparison, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning this year (1/400,000); Mine That Bird had a better shot at being the winner of the Kentucky Derby (a glue-factory refugee which was the longest-shot winner since Donerail won on 91-1 odds in 1913), and Buster Douglas had of knocking out Mike Tyson.
In all fairness, it must still be determined what overall percentage of these small-business owners actually donate to political parties and candidates. One might assume that, since they are small-business owners, they are overwhelmingly supportive of the GOP. But assumption is not the job of a vigilant press. One would at least hope that with the odds being so stacked against the emerging pattern, the professional curiosity of journalists would get the better of them – or at least some of them. Never fear, however; journalists have been inoculated against the disease of curiosity.
Here is Michelle Malkin’s post, this morning: Dealergate and the MSM
Here is her appearance on Fox and Friends, this morning:
Strata-Sphere: Obama’s “Dealergate” Scandal Needs Investigation
Two US Senators are now asking for details on the decision process – one from each party!
Just One Minute: Dealergate
Protein Wisdom: The Stats, Again [Dan Collins; UPDATED x2]
Jonah Goldberg, The Corner: Targeting GOP Donors?
MORE: (May 29):
Greg’s Weblog: Why Can’t “Liberals” Do Basic Stats
Mainstream Texas Conservative: Dealergate Update: What We Have So Far
MORE (MAY 30):
The Other McCain: What Dealergate Says About The Conservative ‘Message’ Problem
Canada Free Press: What’s Wrong with a little Wealth Redistribution anyway?
Sorry, libs. This story isn’t going away, no matter what your numbers guru, Ned Simpler says.
The latest development: Chrysler’s “Dealer Council” posted a letter at the new Chrysler LLC website. It says that the remaining Chrysler dealers are as pleased as punch with the way the dealership shuffle turned out.
It turns out seven of the dealers were Democrat contributors while three gave to GOP candidates (one was Ron Paul, so the figure is really two).
“If, as the Obama apologists claim, that most car dealers are Republicans, why does the Chrysler Dealer Council have more than twice as many dealers on it who donated to Democrats than those who gave to GOP candidates? Let them chew on that one for a while. I’m sure they will come up with something.”