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UPDATE! Proposed Issa Bill Would Prohibit GM and Chrysler from Lobbying

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On: Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 11:36AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

UPDATE! Proposed Issa Bill Would Prohibit GM and Chrysler from Lobbying

Representative Darrell Issa, the top Republican on the Government Reform Committee, plans to initiate a proposal that would prohibit General Motors and Chrysler Corporation (as well as any other bailout company, such as Ally Financial and AIG) from being able to lobby as long as they are owned by the government. In other words, until the bailout funds are completely paid back to the tax payers.

The new amendment, if approved, would broaden the current limitations on lobbying by government-controlled institutions, such as Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, federally funded mortgage conglomerates. This amendment would prohibit lobbying for any corporation of which the federal government owns five percent or more.

A Fannie Mae spokesperson reported that the company was banned from lobbying in 2008 after the corporation was placed in "federal conservatorship." 

According to Kurt Bardella, press secretary  to ranking member Darrell Issa, “Any company that has borrowed taxpayer dollars should not be allowed to hire a lobbyist until the taxpayers have been repaid in full. There is no justification for allowing a company subsidized by taxpayer dollars to hire a lobbyist so they can try to influence the very government that owns the company.”

UPDATE: The Issa Bill was squashed this morning by the financial services conference committee. In a 9-13 vote the bill was put to rest, re-opening Lobby-Season for tax-payer owned entities. Woot?

A GM spokesperson stated that General Motorswould, of course, oppose the amendment, “General Motors will continue to exercise its First Amendment right to free speech,” company spokesman Greg Martin said. “Because complex policy issues can have significant economic and competitive consequences to GM and its competitors, the company is obligated to have its voice heard in the policy-making process.”

Chrysler declined to comment on the subject of the proposed amendment.

Currently the U.S. Government maintains 60% interest in General Motors and 10% ownership of Chrysler as a result of the 2009 government bailout. Allly (formerly GMAC Financial Services) gave up 50% ownership during the bailouts as well.

According to Automotive News, “Since their bankruptcy filings in the spring of 2009, GM has spent $4.3 million on lobbying through March of this year, and Chrysler has spent $2.3 million, according to Center for Responsive Politics data provided by a spokesman.”

The proposed Issa bill willbe required topass before the House and Senate for approval before it reaches President Obama in the White House.


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