U.S. senator accuses GM of 'culture of cover-up' in recalls

WASHINGTON Wed Apr 2, 2014 1:03pm EDT

1 of 7. GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra testifies during a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington April 1, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Motors came under withering attack for its decade-long failure to notify the public about defective parts linked to fatal crashes, as a U.S. Senate hearing opened on Wednesday with accusations that the company fostered "a culture of cover-up."

Rebutting some of GM CEO Mary Barra's testimony to a House panel on Tuesday that GM had recently cleaned up its act, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who chairs a Senate subcommittee on consumer protection and product safety, told Barra: "It might have been the Old GM that started sweeping this defect under the rug 10 years ago. Even under the New GM banner, the company waited nine months to take action after being confronted with specific evidence of this egregious violation of public trust."

House and Senate committees are investigating why it took GM more than a decade to recall 2.6 million cars that could have faulty ignition switches and may have contributed to 13 deaths.

Those switches, without warning, can make vehicle engines stall during operation and stop air bags from deploying and power steering and power brakes from operating.

McCaskill said that "a culture of cover-up" caused a GM ignition switch engineer, Ray DeGiorgio, to give untruthful testimony as part of a lawsuit related to a 2010 crash in Georgia.

"He lied" about his knowledge of the defective part, McCaskill said.

GM spokesman Jim Cain, asked about McCaskill's allegations, said: "We have pledged an unvarnished accounting of what went wrong and why, and we have promised to be transparent."

(Writing by Richard Cowan; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Comments (5)
Darr247 wrote:
What’s unacceptable is parents allowing their kids to drive sans seat belts. The plain truth is, if those girls had their seat+shoulder belts on, they’d still be alive.

How is that GM’s fault?

Apr 01, 2014 9:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
dumbmechanic wrote:
Let me make sure I have this right. If they had worn a seat belt when the , brakes, airbags, steering failed….they would still be alive?
Alot better chance of their survival if the problem was fixed at GM ten years ago when they knew it was a problem.
Blame the victim, thanks for towing the company line.
Now go think to yourself what that means..

Apr 01, 2014 10:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
unionwv wrote:
What, exactly, does the UAW’s 19% ownership of GM and its presence on GM’s board of directors get for GM’s customers?

Does their representative really know anything about GM’s operations, such as its safety recall practices?

Apr 02, 2014 10:07am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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