Auto Safety Legislation Rolled by Special Interests

$38 million in contributions paid off for auto industry:
Secrecy of safety defect information secured

October 2000

Vickie Hendricks and Julie Lockwood-Steinberg share a tragic experience – both lost loved ones in Ford/Firestone rollover crashes in Texas. Vickie lost her 18-year-old son, Matthew, who crashed on his way to pick up his girlfriend for a bowling date. Julie's brother Tim was killed when his Explorer flipped over on the way to a morning business meeting.

The two women share strong feelings about their traumatic losses – such strong feelings that they both traveled to Washington, D.C. recently to urge Congress to pass tough new safety legislation that would criminally punish the knowing failure to recall defective vehicles and prevent companies such as Ford and Firestone from hiding defects from the public and government. "We need legislation that will require auto companies to tell the federal government and the public about defects in auto parts and vehicles," said Hendricks.

For a while, it looked as though the women would get what they wanted. In the wake of the massive Firestone tire recall and new data about sports utility vehicle rollovers, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) proposed legislation (S. 3059) that would require manufacturers to alert the government about dangerous defects — or face jail time if they deliberately failed to report defects or issue a recall and the defect caused death or serious injury. The bill was unanimously reported by the Senate Commerce Committee. But because of a campaign of secret "holds" by anonymous senators, McCain could never bring his bill to the Senate floor for a vote. Instead, Congress approved a much weaker bill, H.R. 5164, developed solely in the House of Representatives and heavily influenced by the auto industry.

The House bill that slid through both houses of Congress in less than 18 hours and was sent to the president for his signature has two terrible provisions. In a perverse twist, one section promotes secrecy, allowing the Secretary of Transportation to keep early information on safety defects from the public — which is exactly the opposite of what the Ford/Firestone tragedy taught us is needed. The bill also repeals a section in a recently enacted appropriations measure that imposed a duty upon manufacturers to analyze their information in order to learn whether a defect is a safety hazard. With this new provision repealed, auto manufacturers get to keep an enormous information advantage over federal regulators and the public. In short, H.R. 5164 is a face-saving bill for lawmakers, who needed legislation to show voters back home, not a life-saving bill for the public.

I. Following the Money: The Story of H.R. 5164

Behind the Scenes: An Auto Industry Fix

A truckload of auto company lobbyists, working with their allies in Congress, lined up senators to block consideration of McCain’s Senate bill. Due to their efforts, the Senate took up the much weaker House bill, permitting an up or down vote only without any amendments, and consumers got rolled. "The fix is in by the special interests," protested McCain.1

McCain was right. Auto industry special interests spent huge sums to influence lawmakers – particularly Republicans – in recent years, building up tremendous good will that worked to limit the future accountability of the auto industry. For instance:

  • The auto industry has contributed $37.8 million to lawmakers since 1995; 77 percent, or $29 million, of the money went to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.2
  • The top 15 auto industry contributors have given $4.0 million in soft money since 1995. Ninety percent of the money went to Republicans (see Table 3).
  • The top 15 auto industry hard money (PAC and individual) contributors have given $13.9 million since 1995; 74 percent, or $10.3 million, went to GOP candidates and committees (see Table 4).
  • Leading companies and groups in the auto industry have spent more than $112.6 million to lobby Congress and the Clinton administration from 1997 through June 2000 (see Table 5).

The Senate: Anti-Democratic Anonymous Holds Kept McCain Bill Bottled Up

Rather than publicly opposing a bill that was unanimously passed in the Senate Commerce Committee, conservative Republican senators stopped it with a "rolling hold," keeping the bill from coming to a vote by asking Majority Leader Trent Lott to "hold" it up – but doing so anonymously.3 In this undemocratic tactic, senators pass the hold like a hot potato from one to another before their identities can be made public. Although McCain publicly implored senators with holds to come forward and negotiate with him on the safety legislation, no one stepped up.

CBS News identified Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as three of the culprits.4 Later, Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) acknowledged his role,5 as did Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) in a colloquy with McCain on the Senate floor.6

The five senators publicly identified as placing a hold on the bill – Voinovich, McConnell, Hatch, Sessions and Bunning – all rank among the Senate’s top 30 recipients of auto industry PAC and individual contributions since 1995 (see Table 1). Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.), as the top recipient of auto industry money at $605,000, sits on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. He influenced the bill before consideration in committee, as did Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Mo.), who is also on the Commerce committee and is the fourth largest recipient of auto industry money. The dictates from the auto industry were so compelling that even some senators who supported McCain’s version of the legislation when it passed unanimously out of the full Commerce committee followed the leadership’s cues and worked against the bill when it was time to produce it for a vote on the Senate floor.7 Only three of the 30 top Senate recipients of auto industry cash are Democrats.

 

Table 1: Top 30 Senate Recipients of Auto Industry Contributions 1995 – 2000

Rank

Recipient

Total

1

Spencer Abraham (R-Mich)

$605,000

2

Phil Gramm (R-Texas)

$230,980

3

George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio)

$203,424

4

John Ashcroft (R-Mo)

$180,102

5

John McCain (R-Ariz)

$167,026

6

Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind)

$136,750

7

Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo)

$126,169

8

Bill Frist (R-Tenn)

$116,850

9

Mike DeWine (R-Ohio)

$83,525

10

John W. Warner (R-Va)

$82,960

11

Sam Brownback (R-Kan)

$80,050

12

Jeff Sessions (R-Ala)

$80,000

13

Mitch McConnell (R-Ky)

$75,875

14

Ron Wyden (D-Ore)

$74,900

15

Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)

$74,050

16

Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala)

$74,013

17

Gordon Smith (R-Ore)

$72,516

18

Fred Thompson (R-Tenn)

$70,800

19

Rick Santorum (R-Pa)

$70,200

20

Arlen Specter (R-Pa)

$68,350

21

Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa)

$66,750

22

Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah)

$65,150

23

Peter G. Fitzgerald (R-Ill)

$64,392

24

Don Nickles (R-Okla)

$63,700

25

Evan Bayh (D-Ind)

$60,000

26

Jim Bunning (R-Ky)

$57,600

27

Robert G. Torricelli (D-NJ)

$57,000

28

John Kerry (D-Mass)

$53,812

29

James M. Inhofe (R-Okla)

$52,650

30

Jesse Helms (R-NC)

$52,400

Source: Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org), includes all contributions available electronically from the FEC as of October 1, 2000.


Leaving Congress with One Option: An Industry-Friendly House Bill (H.R. 5164)

While the auto industry galvanized its allies to stall any progress in the Senate in the waning days of the 106th Congress, it also was working hard on the House version of the bill, implanting some highly technical but disastrous provisions. The House bill actually reduces the enforcement authority of federal regulators and provides the opportunity for industry to argue that safety defect information should be kept secret. With these two provisions in it, the bill passed the House at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, October 11 on a voice vote.

Table 2 shows the top 30 recipients of auto industry contributions in the House of Representatives. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) received the second-highest amount the auto industry and, as the ranking Democrat on the Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over the bill, played a leading role in developing the House bill.

Rep. Dingell also led the charge against an amendment offered by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) that would have authorized the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to collect civil penalties for violations of the law more effectively and rapidly through an administrative law judge, as many other federal agencies do. Rep. Waxman told the committee that, under the current system, the Department of Transportation (DOT) must go to district court for a full trial before collecting fines if the violator turns down the agency’s proposed compromise. This makes the collection of smaller fines too expensive to be worthwhile and eliminates their deterrent effect.

But Rep. Dingell spoke out at length against the proposal and, together with five other Democrats, joined all of the committee’s Republicans in opposing the amendment. Republicans on the committee who opposed the measure and who receive considerable donations from auto industry contributors include Reps. Joe L. Barton (R- Texas), Thomas J. Bliley, Jr. (R-Va.), James E. Rogan (R- Calif.), Brian Bilbray (R- Calif.) and Ed Bryant (R- Tenn.).

While the House Republican leadership, which includes such major recipients of industry money as House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Majority Leader Dick Armey (R- Texas) and Majority Whip Tom Delay (R-Texas), initially opposed development of any auto safety legislation, their opposition turned around when it became apparent that the stronger Senate bill was stalled and the House-reported bill was acceptable to industry. Of the top 30 recipients of auto industry money, only four are Democrats. Republican Rep. W.J. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), while not among the top 30 recipients, was the bill’s House manager. He has received $35,750 from the auto industry since 1995.8

Table 2: Top 30 House Recipients of Auto Industry Contributions 1995 – 2000

Rank

Recipient

Total

1

Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich)

$167,355

2

John D. Dingell (D-Mich)

$164,300

3

Tom DeLay (R-Texas)

$126,850

4

Roy Blunt (R-Mo)

$104,350

5

Donald L. Sherwood (R-Pa)

$100,950

6

Sander M. Levin (D-Mich)

$97,700

7

J. D. Hayworth (R-Ariz)

$87,650

8

Dick Armey (R-Texas)

$85,500

9

John A. Boehner (R-Ohio)

$83,775

10

Joe L. Barton (R-Texas)

$82,100

11

Anne Northup (R-Ky)

$80,965

12

John R. Kasich (R-Ohio)

$80,950

13

Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va)

$79,300

14

Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis)

$76,950

15

Thomas J. Bliley Jr (R-Va)

$76,550

16

Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo)

$76,500

17

James E. Rogan (R-Calif)

$75,750

18

Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash)

$72,520

19

Wes Watkins (R-Okla)

$71,950

20

Brian P. Bilbray (R-Calif)

$71,100

21

Martin Frost (D-Texas)

$70,700

22

Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo)

$69,976

23

Ed Bryant (R-Tenn)

$69,300

24

Dennis Hastert (R-Ill)

$68,650

25

David M. McIntosh (R-Ind)

$68,575

26

Jerry Weller (R-Ill)

$68,250

27

Kevin Brady (R-Texas)

$68,250

28

J. C. Watts (R-Okla)

$67,400

29

Bill Thomas (R-Calif)

$66,950

30

Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz)

$66,750

Source: Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org), includes all contributions available electronically from the FEC as of October 1, 2000.

 

II. Other Money: How the Auto Industry Paved the Way With Cash

Even in the face of massive negative publicity about the Ford and Firestone defects, it is no secret why the auto industry succeeds in blunting crucial consumer protection initiatives. The industry plies members of Congress and both political parties with trunkloads of campaign cash and deploys a fleet of well-connected lobbyists to buttonhole members of Congress.

Top "Soft Money" Contributors

So-called soft money contributions are given to the political parties in unlimited amounts from corporations, unions and the wealthy. Table 3 shows that the top 15 auto industry contributors have given more than $3.6 million in "soft money" to Republican party committees and $383,143 to Democratic party committees in this six-year Senate election cycle – that’s nine times more to Republicans than to Democrats.

Table 3: Top 15 Auto Industry Soft Money Contributors 1995 – 2000

Organization

Republican

%

Democrat

%

Total

General Motors

$418,835

90%

$46,500

10%

$465,335

Galpin Motors9

$385,000

100%

$0

0%

$385,000

Toyota Motor Sales USA

$286,800

76%

$90,500

24%

$377,300

JM Family Enterprises10

$302,175

84%

$55,500

16%

$357,675

Huizenga Holdings11

$296,120

88%

$40,000

12%

$336,120

DaimlerChrysler

$285,365

93%

$20,700

7%

$306,065

Affiliated Computer Services12

$258,275

100%

$0

0%

$258,275

Jim Click Automotive Group13

$250,200

100%

$0

0%

$250,200

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

$233,250

100%

$213

0%

$233,463

Devon Hill Motors14

$230,000

100%

$0

0%

$230,000

Ford Motor Co

$214,025

100%

$0

0%

$214,025

American Sunroof Co.

$171,062

100%

$0

0%

$171,062

Ourisman Automotive15

$141,600

100%

$0

0%

$141,600

Rosenthal Companies16

$138,500

100%

$0

0%

$138,500

Prince Motors

$0

0%

$130,000

100%

$130,000

Totals

$3,611,207

90%

$383,413

10%

$3,994,620

Source: Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org), includes all contributions available electronically from the FEC as of October 1, 2000.


Top PAC Contributors

The persuasion marshaled by the families victimized by Ford and Firestone cannot match the influence of the leading car makers or the auto equipment manufacturers and dealers, who have given more than $13.9 million in PAC and individual contributions since 1995, $10.3 million of which went to Republican candidates and committees (see Table 4).

Table 4: Top 15 Auto Industry Hard Money (PAC and Individual) Contributors 1995 - 2000

Organization

Republican

%

Democrat

%

Total

National Auto Dealers Assn

$4,786,050

74%

$1,703,425

26%

$6,489,475

Ford Motor Co

$1,305,137

71%

$522,910

29%

$1,828,047

DaimlerChrysler

$1,110,927

66%

$578,002

34%

$1,688,929

General Motors

$992,474

68%

$466,639

32%

$1,459,113

Enterprise Rent-A-Car

$643,932

91%

$61,150

9%

$705,082

Goodyear Tire & Rubber

$290,558

86%

$47,250

14%

$337,808

Huizenga Holdings

$201,900

79%

$54,000

21%

$255,900

Autozone Inc.17

$227,205

92%

$19,000

8%

$246,205

Lear Corp18

$216,500

94%

$14,150

6%

$230,650

AMS Distributing19

$125,750

97%

$4,000

3%

$129,750

Galpin Motors

$126,300

99%

$800

1%

$127,100

United Auto Group20

$2,000

2%

$124,570

98%

$126,570

Beaman Automotive Group21

$122,531

100%

$250

0%

$122,781

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co

$91,250

87%

$13,400

13%

$104,650

JM Family Enterprises

$64,800

64%

$37,000

36%

$101,800

Totals

$10,307,314

74%

$3,646,546

26%

$13,953,860

Source: Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org), includes all contributions available electronically from the FEC as of October 1, 2000.

 

The auto industry also contributes to high-visibility party activities such as election-year political conventions. General Motors supplied vehicles and other donations worth more than $1 million to the Democratic and Republican national conventions this summer. DaimlerChrysler contributed $250,000 to each convention, while both GM and DaimlerChrysler sponsored lavish parties at both conventions, complete with a performance in Philadelphia by the Motown group the Temptations.22

Top Lobbying Expenditures

Automakers also lobby – a lot. Lobby disclosure reports show that Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler alone spent $77 million lobbying since 1997 (see Table 5). When auto manufacturing trade groups and other car makers are included, automakers’ lobbying expenses since 1997 mushroom to $112.6 million. What did auto manufacturers lobby for? According to their reports, the millions were spent fighting new pollution standards and opposing employee health care reforms and safety regulations, some of which are required by H.R. 5164.

 

Table 5: Auto Industry Lobbying Leaders

Jan. 1, 1997 - June 30, 2000

Company

1997

1998

1999

2000

Totals

Ford Motor Co.

$6,880,000

$13,080,000

$8,360,000

$4,004,000

$32,324,000

General Motors

$9,300,000

$7,360,000

$5,820,000

$3,320,000

$25,800,000

DaimlerChrysler

$4,340,000

$6,280,000

$5,520,000

$2,760,000

$18,900,000

Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers*

$9,916,000

$2,200,000

$2,164,000

$2,653,804

$16,933,804

Honda

$846,000

$1,043,000

$1,180,000

$616,000

$3,685,000

Toyota

$720,000

$1,200,000

$1,093,700

$336,000

$3,349,700

American International Automobile Dealers Assoc.

$600,000

$900,000

$1,200,000

$600,000

$3,300,000

Goodyear

$820,000

$900,000

$960,000

$460,000

$3,140,000

Automotive Service Association

$260,000

$280,000

$460,000

$160,000

$1,160,000

Torrington Co.23

$337,865

$300,000

$260,000

$130,000

$1,027,865

JM Family Enterprises

$238,000

$216,000

$220,000

$100,000

$774,000

Michelin North America

$250,000

$120,000

$260,000

$80,000

$710,000

American Auto Leasing

$320,000

$280,000

$40,000

$20,000

$660,000

Nissan

$80,000

$120,000

$260,000

$60,000

$520,000

Bridgestone/Firestone

$160,000

$120,000

$40,000

$320,000

Totals

$34,907,865

$34,439,000

$27,917,700

$15,339,804

$112,604,369

Source: Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org); lobby disclosure reports filed with the Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House pursuant to the Lobby Disclosure Act of 1995.

*The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, created in 1999, is the successor to the American Automobile Manufacturers Association.

 

Funds for Business Associations from Auto Manufacturers and Dealers

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) also lobbied heavily against tough safety legislation, especially during the crucial week the McCain bill was being developed.24 Auto industry companies are major players in NAM and have increased their contributions to the Chamber of Commerce in recent years.25 Since 1997, the Chamber of Commerce and NAM spent nearly $74 million on lobbying to influence lawmakers (see Table 6). While not all, or even most, of these expenditures were made to oppose new auto safety legislation, the money as a whole helps the organizations to maintain access to lawmakers, which can be used to undercut auto safety or any other pro-consumer legislation.

And this access gets results for trade association members, such as the auto manufacturers and dealers. In the latest auto safety fight, auto dealers successfully lobbied Congress to remove from the bill any obligation to inform used car buyers of dangerous defects, or to inform buyers on a dealer purchase sticker of a vehicle’s tendency to roll over. The latter was proposed in amendments to the House bill by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) but withdrawn after considerable opposition from the committee members about the burden it placed on auto dealers, despite regulations that already require some kinds of consumer information to be available at the point of purchase. The auto dealers were also successful in removing themselves from the criminal liability language in McCain’s Senate bill.

Table 6: U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of

Manufacturers Lobbying Expenditures

Jan. 1, 1997 – June 30, 2000

Organization

1997

1998

1999

2000

Totals

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

$14,240,000

$17,000,000

$18,160,000

$9,660,000

$59,060,000

National Association of Manufacturers

$6,180,000

$3,620,000

$3,020,000

$2,000,585

$14,820,585

Total

$20,421,997

$20,621,998

$21,181,999

$11,662,585

$73,880,585

Source: Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org); Lobby disclosure reports filed with the Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate pursuant to the Lobby Disclosure Act of 1995.


Purchasing Insider Expertise

The auto companies also bought help from two former federal auto safety officials who are expert at crafting legislation that benefits the auto industry at the expense of consumer safety. They appeared at committee hearings and decisionmaking committee meetings and drafted parts of the House bill and amendments:26

  • Erika Z. Jones, former special counsel at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), works for Mayer, Brown and Platt, a law firm that represents the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade association of 13 auto companies that includes Ford.
  • Barry Felrice, former associate administrator for motor vehicles standards at NHTSA, is now manager of regulatory affairs for DaimlerChrysler.

Other former NHTSA officials had a hand in the legislative fight as well:

  • Paul Jackson Rice, former chief counsel at NHTSA, works for Bridgestone/Firestone and two of his partners work for the Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association.
  • Two former NHTSA chiefs – Marion Blakey and Diane Steed – told The Washington Post they were not working on the new safety legislation, but both did write columns critical of the legislation for the Wall Street Journal and USA Today, respectively.

 

III. Buying Results: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Death of a Good Bill for Consumers

The new safety legislation championed by McCain, S. 3059, would have significantly improved motor vehicle safety by increasing NHTSA’s enforcement authority. It was supported by national consumer, health, and safety groups as well as the Ford/Firestone victims27 and their families. The major improvements that the bill would have accomplished were not included in the House bill due to auto industry opposition. Under McCain’s bill:

  • NHTSA could require auto manufacturers to evaluate their data on safety defects and report their conclusions to DOT, including patterns and trends in warranty files, consumer complaints, recalls and "consumer satisfaction" campaigns here and abroad, failures of components and systems, and lawsuits involving injuries and deaths. The scope of the House bill is more narrow, and depends upon DOT surmounting a number of difficult bureaucratic hurdles to get this same information.
  • NHTSA could require auto manufacturers to alert the agency if they believe that a manufacturing defect puts consumers at risk of injury or death. The House bill requires a manufacturer to have actual notice of a defect-related incident alleged to cause serious injury or death before it must report it.
  • The Justice Department could seek criminal penalties against executives who knowingly sell a vehicle or equipment that is defective or does not comply with federal safety standards if the executive knows that the defect endangers consumers and the defect causes serious harm. The House bill contains no new criminal authority. Instead, it mimics an existing federal law which already criminalizes making false statements to government agencies, including NHTSA.

Passage of a Bad Bill that Encourages Industry Secrecy

The deceptive and dangerous House bill (H.R. 5164) approved by the Senate not only fails to enact important protections to prevent future Ford/Firestone fiascoes, but also erects new hazards for consumers in the form of secrecy requirements and other burdens on DOT’s ability to act. In addition, the bill repeals a critical new provision passed earlier this session in the FY2001 DOT Appropriations act that might have required auto manufacturers to evaluate and vouch for the safety of their products. These two provisions far outweigh the good done by the bill in other, noncontroversial areas.

While H.R. 5164 increases civil penalties for violating the law and extends the time for the DOT to order a recall, as well as other smaller measures, it provides no criminal penalties for the knowing failure to recall an unsafe vehicle or part after it causes death or serious injury. The bill also fails to give federal regulators any administrative authority to impose civil penalties, despite the fact that Congress was informed of NHTSA’s repeated inability to effectively impose penalties under current law, which requires the agency to compromise the amount of the fine with industry or win an expensive court trial.

Industry’s Ugly Maneuvers on Auto Safety Bill Show Why We Need Campaign

Finance Reform

The success of the auto industry in getting its friends in the Senate to block the McCain auto safety bill and securing passage of the weaker House bill is a testament to the influence-peddling that controls our political system.

These kind of political games are a reminder of why the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill languishes in the Senate – not because it is flawed, or because a majority of senators voted it down. In fact, a majority of senators support the reform bill. But it never got to the floor for a vote because a few senators kept it locked up in a filibuster, and its proponents could not muster the 60-vote supermajority needed to move the bill to a vote.

The story here is the same: A minority of powerful senators were able to block and eventually kill a good bill to preserve wealthy corporate interests – at the expense of the public and grieving families who came to Washington in search of something better.


Endnotes

Helen Dewar, "Republicans Anger McCain by Blocking His Auto Safety Bill," The Washington Post, Oct. 7, 2000, A12. On the floor of the Senate October 6, McCain said, "I’ve taken the floor on many, many occasions to talk about the influence of special interests in Washington. The automotive [industry] is now blocking this legislation. The word is on the street. The ‘fix’ is in that the bill will not pass the Senate. . ." Congressional Record, Unanimous Consent Request –S. 3059, Oct. 6, 2000.

Figures are from the Oct. 1, 2000, Federal Election Commission (FEC) data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Sharyl Attkisson, "New Accusations that the Automobile Industry Has Congress Blocking New Safety Legislation in the Wake of the Ford-Firestone Fiasco," CBS Evening News, Oct. 6, 2000. Attkisson’s story explains the rolling hold, likening it to a "game of legislative hot potato." Her story also identified three of the anonymous senators as Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning.

Sen. McConnell’s public relations staff told Public Citizen that McConnell did not block Sen. McCain’s bill. Sen. McConnell is well known for his efforts on behalf of the auto industry on tort and other issues. Numerous senators denied having a hold on the bill.

Stephen Power, "Senate Approves Bill to Overhaul The Nation’s Auto-Safety Laws," The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 12, 2000. Power reported: "Only one senator, George Voinovich (R-Ohio), has acknowledged having blocked the measure."

Sessions objected to introduction of McCain’s Senate bill on the Senate floor October 6th, 2000, following an attempt to nominate a candidate for a federal judgeship. Congressional Record, Nomination of Bonnie Campbell, Oct. 6, 2000.

On October 6th, Senator Ted Stevens (R- Alaska), placed a hold on McCain’s Senate bill despite voting for it in committee, and stated, ". . .as I understand it, the bill will come over from the House. It will be the House bill we would consider." Congressional Record, Unanimous Consent Agreement –S. 3059, Oct. 6, 2000.

The figures regarding Tauzin’s receipt of auto industry funds are from the Center for Responsive Politics and are current as of Oct. 1, 2000..

Galpin Motors is the largest seller of Ford cars in the US. The company also rents and customizes cars, such as its 1978 "Gucci Thunderbird," sold with matching handbag, wallet, and scarf. Galpin Motors is owned and run by the Boeckmann family.

JM Family Enterprises is a holding company with a dozen automotive-related businesses, including the nation’s largest-volume Lexus retailer and the world’s largest Toyota distribution franchise. Other JM divisions provide consumer auto leasing, dealer financing and vehicle insurance.

AutoNation was founded by Wayne Huizenga (Waste Management, Blockbuster Video) and is a subsidiary of Huizenga Holdings. AutoNation is the largest car dealer in the US with more than 400 new-car dealerships in 19 states, auto-related financial services, and online sales through AutoNationDirect.com.

Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) does business technology consulting for large commercial clients. ACS provides computer processing services, network management, systems engineering, information analysis, help desk support, document digitization and supply chain management for companies in the transportation industry.

Jim Click Automotive is one of the nation’s largest auto dealer companies, controlling 15 dealerships. Click is a $100,000-donor, or "pioneer" of George W. Bush’s presidential campaign.

Devon Hill Motors is a Philadelphia area dealership specializing in BMW and VW vehicles.

Ourisman operates 10 dealerships throughout Maryland and Virginia that include Chevrolet, Ford, DaimlerChrysler, Honda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, and Toyota. Ourisman also operates a leasing office that offers free dealership-to-door delivery of newly leased vehicles.

Rosenthal Automotive operates 15 auto dealerships in the Washington, DC, area. The company also sells used cars and has wholesale and fleet operations.

AutoZone, Inc., sells auto and light truck parts, chemicals and accessories through 2,915 AutoZone stores in 42 states in the U.S. plus the District of Columbia and 13 AutoZone stores in Mexico. AutoZone also sells heavy-duty truck parts through 49 TruckPro stores in 15 states, and automotive diagnostic and repair software and information via the internet.

Lear manufactures car seat systems, floor systems, door panels, headliners, and instrument panels. Lear has more than 300 facilities in 33 countries, and sells parts to automakers such as Ford and General Motors (more than half of sales), as well as BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Fiat, Saab, and Volkswagen.

AMS Distributing is an auto parts manufacturer in Fenton, MO, that specializes in clutch and gear replacements.

United Auto Group (UAG) is the second largest auto dealer in the US. UAG operates 120 dealerships in 17 states, Puerto Rico and Brazil, that sell new and used vehicles and provide repair services.

Beaman Automotive Group is a 55-year-old Nashville, Tennessee-based new and used car dealership selling Ford, GM and Toyota trucks and cars, as well as other makes and models.

Center for Responsive Politics, "Beyond the Velvet Rope," www.opensecrets.org.

Torrington Co. is a North Carolina-based producer of precision ball bearings and motion control components for automotive and other industries and has been in business since 1866.

Nedra Pickler, "Tough Auto Standards sent on to Clinton," Associated Press, Oct. 12, 2000 and Stephen Power, "Efforts to Toughen Auto-Safety Laws Are Imperiled," The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 6, 2000. Both stories say the U.S. Chamber of Commerce led lobbying against the McCain bill.

Cindy Skrzycki, "Auto-Safety Bill Reflects Industry’s Interests," The Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2000 (describing success of the Chamber of Commerce and NAM in working together to kill McCain bill); Stephen Power, "Efforts to Toughen Auto Safety Laws Are Imperiled," The Wall Street Journal, Oct. 6, 2000 (describing Chamber of Commerce opposition to criminal penalties in Sen. McCain’s proposed Senate bill); Helen Dewar, "Panel Passes Reporting Bill," The Washington Post, Oct. 6, 2000 (describing Chamber of Commerce focus in objecting to McCain bill).

Judy Sarasohn, "Ex-NHTSA Officials Take Industry’s Side," The Washington Post, Oct. 5, 2000.

The families who came to Washington to lobby for effective auto safety legislation had themselves been in a Ford/Firestone or other auto-defect related crash, or lost a family member in those circumstances: Bob and Laura Bishop of Bartlesville, Ohio, Geoffrey Coffin of Shelton, Connecticut, Shawna Fruecht of Naples, Florida, Pam Hegener of Lake Charles, Louisiana, Spence Hegener of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, Vickie, Desiree and Joe Hendricks of Corpus Christi, Texas, Shannon Johnson-Query of Jacksonville, Florida, B.J. Kincade of Catoosa, Oklahoma, Julie Lockwood-Steinberg of Houston, Texas, Sondra Runfeldt of West Palm Beach, Florida, Robert C. Sanders of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Juanita Sawyer of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Spencer and Elizabeth Taintor of Miami, Florida, Geneva Chapman of Atlanta, Georgia, Stephanie and Greg Morosin of Albuquerque, New Mexico and Amber Woody of Springfield, Massachusetts.