After filing an ethics complaint about the millions that presidential nominee Mitt Romney allegedly made from the auto bailout, United Auto Workers President Bob King denounced the Republican’s actions Friday, saying his careless statements are hurting the American auto brand and the people of Ohio.
While campaigning in Defiance, Ohio, last week, Romney, who opposed the government’s bailout of GM and Chrysler, said he read Chrysler was thinking of “moving all [Jeep] production to China.” Romney’s Jeep claims and misleading ad that followed sparked worry that Americans jobs were going to China.
However, multiple Chrysler executives have denied those claims, calling them false and noting that the company is merely considering whether to reopen production halted in China years ago.
“He’s hurting the brand,” King said during a telephone interview Thursday afternoon. “If Americans believe that they will buy less products. He’s scaring the workers and their families. It’s unconscionable.”
The Romney campaign is working hard to secure Ohio, a state where the auto industry is a major employer, and without which no Republican has ever won the White House. President Barack Obama is currently leading Romney in Ohio, according to several polls.
Billions In Investments
Defiance is an auto town, and the county’s workforce is more than 21,000 strong, according to the Defiance Area Chamber of Commerce. A variety of manufacturing firms and agribusinesses are hosted in Defiance.
General Motors is the largest employer with approximately 1,450 employees, the chamber’s website stated.
The federal bailout of GM greatly helped the town.
Since the bailout, all three auto brands – GM, Chrysler and Ford, which did not receive federal loans – have invested billions back into the U.S. economy and created tens of thousands of jobs.
By the UAW’s estimate, nearly $20 billion was invested, with more than $8 billion coming from GM and about $5 billion from the smaller Chrysler. GM also created more than 21,000 jobs while Chrysler added 10,000.
“When workers are back to working, everyone benefits because of the disposable income,” King said, calling Romney’s statements “reckless.”
“His actions indicate he doesn’t know what he is doing,” King added. “Anyone who wants to help America would not be putting out false statements about the companies. You want them in markets around the world making stronger companies. GM sold more cars in China last year than in America. You must have balance.”
The Romney campaign has not responded to an email asking for a comment.
The Ethics Complaint
Obama’s campaign narrative regarding the economy and jobs – two top priority issues in this year’s election – relies heavily on the auto bailout resulting in the rescue of an American icon that is now profitable and hiring.
It is definitely in Romney’s best interest to try and change that narrative, even at the eleventh hour. But that's proving to be difficult for the man who wrote an editorial with the headline "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt".
On Nov. 18, 2008, Romney wrote in The New York Times, “If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed. Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check. “
But the same thing Romney opposed brought in an alleged $15 million in windfall that the UAW wants him to disclose. Reports are that $12.9 billion in federal money went to Delphi, an American multinational automotive parts manufacturing company, in which a hedge fund the Romneys had invested in bought a stake. That stake brought massive returns to the hedge fund's investors.
The UAW and watchdog groups sent a letter to the Office of Government Ethics on Thursday, requesting an investigation into the matter.
That Romney didn’t make his windfall known in public financial disclosures, King alleged, is a noncompliance with the Ethics in Government Act.
“They got a substantial amount of money coming from taxpayers. It’s so hypocritical,” King said, adding that how Romney allegedly made the profit isn’t illegal but immoral.
“The American public will know the truth,” King later said, adding he believes this might call into question other investments. “He’s not going to be the president to rebuild the manufacturing sector and the economy.”