GM executives will be back in the hot seat on Capitol Hill tomorrow. This time, they’ll be getting a grilling from the Senate Commerce Committee about the ignition switch defect that killed at least 13 people and the decade it took to publicly identify the problem and issue a recall.
According to Bloomberg News, GM is still happy to place all of the blame for the decade-long disaster on the folks they fired two months ago.
Bloomberg acquired copies of the the GM execs’ planned testimony for tomorrow’s hearing. In that testimony, the company’s top leadership continue to point at ousted execs from the legal department for the whole disaster.
In his statement the company’s general counsel, Michael Millikin, said, “We had lawyers at GM who didn’t do their jobs; didn’t do what was expected of them.” He added, “Those lawyers are no longer with the company.”
Federal investigators have unearthed documents showing that the issue arose within the company in 2005 and in 2006. In June, after completing their own internal investigation, GM admitted that they had not handled the discovery of the defect, or the subsequent recall, at all well. GM CEO Mary Barra described “a pattern of incompetence and neglect” in certain quarters of the company, and 15 employees were fired.
The internal investigation found that neither Barra nor Millikin knew about the ignition switch defect prior to the start of the 2014 recalls.
In addition to Barra and Milliken, tomorrow’s hearing will also feature testimony from the investigator who led the internal report, the lawyer overseeing the compensation fund, and the maker of the faulty part at the heart of the recall.
Congress has not taken kindly to GM’s pleas of ignorance and incompetence, and later today there will be bill put forth in the Senate that would introduce criminal liability for executives who fail to tell regulatory authorities that their products have potentially fatal defects.