House investigators have initiated a probe into allegations that the White House or one of its surrogates pressured the Ford Motor Co. to drop an advertisement critical of the administration’s automotive bailouts. A number of reports have alleged at least indirect pressure to take the spot off the air.
“I am deeply concerned about undue political pressure exerted by the White House on public companies,” House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) stated in a letter to Ford on Thursday. Issa requested an explanation of Ford’s position on the ad, and records of all communications between Ford and the White House, the Democratic Party, and the United Autoworkers union about it.
“Given the close relationship between American automobile manufacturers, workers unions and the U.S. Government in the wake of a series of loans, grants and stimulus programs,” Issa added, “accusations of White House interference in private business matters to support its own political and policy agendas are very serious issues and warrant a full airing of the facts.”
The ad at issue featured Chris McDaniel discussing his reasons for buying a Ford. “I wasn’t going to buy another car that was bailed out by our government,” McDaniel said in the ad. “I was going to buy from a manufacturer that’s standing on their own – win, lose or draw.”
Scribe reached out to McDaniel earlier this week for our weekly podcast. He talked further about the administration’s bailout policies, and said that he wasn’t sure that Ford had pulled the ad under political pressure. In fact, McDaniel praised Ford for “stir[ing] a debate in America that we need to have” with its anti-bailout ad.
Still, congressional investigators are looking for answers. Issa took to his Twitter account on Friday to demand answers from Ford in a more public setting. “Nice tweeting, but you didn’t answer any official @GOPOversight QUESTIONS,” he said, referring to a tweet from Ford’s official account explaining that it had not pulled the video of the ad from YouTube, and that it still remained online.
“The ad was posted on an agency employee’s account before we had digital rights to it,” Ford explained. “Once we had them, we posted to ours.”
Ford did not respond to Issa’s next few tweets, which reiterated the letter’s questions concerning contact between Ford and the DNC or the UAW. “While #twitter is fast,” Issa quipped, “you still have until Oct 12 to answer ALL @GOPOversight #unansweredquestions in writing.”