May 7 General Motors Co has re-hired
Steve Harris, its top spokesman during the automaker's slide
into bankruptcy, as it faces a new public relations crisis
caused by a deadly ignition defect that has forced it to recall
2.6 million vehicles.
"We continue to draw from a variety of expertise to help
guide our response to the ignition switch recall," GM spokesman
Greg Martin said in a statement.
"Steve Harris' deep background with GM and proven experience
will be of great help to us during this period of time."
The move, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, will be
"on a contract basis for a limited time," Martin added.
Harris served as GM's top spokesman from 1999 through 2003
and then again from 2006 to 2009 as the automaker slid into
government-orchestrated bankruptcy and reorganization.
News of his return came less than a month after GM announced
that Selim Bingol, its senior vice president, global
communications and public policy, was leaving the company "to
pursue other interests."
GM has not yet named a permanent replacement for Bingol.
Harris is not the first consultant GM has tapped as it
grapples with the bad publicity generated by the ignition issue.
In early April, the company hired Jeff Eller, chairman of
Public Strategies Inc, which represented Firestone during its
tire recall in 2000, as a crisis management adviser.
The ignition switch defect, which GM acknowledges has been
known to its engineers since 2001, did not prompt a recall until
Jan. 31 of this year. The problem has been linked to 13 deaths.
(Reporting by James B. Kelleher in Detroit. Editing by Andre