Auto Makers Going Out Of Business, But Still Have Enough Money To Lobby Congress

CBSNews is reporting that while, at this very moment, the big three auto bosses are testifying in front of the House Financial Services Committee (watch this now at CSPAN, if you like.) about how they need emergency bridge loans in order to continue functioning — they still apparently have enough money to continue to spend millions lobbying our government.

CBS says that the auto industry has spent $50 million dollars on lobbyists in the first 9 months of 2008, and gave another $15 million in campaign contributions.

CBS also highlights some conflicts of interest among our public servants. Check this out:

Take Sen. Carl Levin, who received $438,304 from the automotive industry. And in the House, Rep. Joe Knollenberg received $879,327. Rep. John Dingell got nearly a million from the industry. All have enjoyed generous support from the auto industry over their careers, with GM and Ford as their two top contributors. All support a bailout.

But nobody’s been a bigger advocate for Motor City interests than Dingell. And for him, the stakes aren’t just political, they’re personal.

“There’s an actual conflict,” said Ryan Alexander of the nonprofit group Taxpayers for Common Sense. “His personal financial health, you know, the wealth of his family is tied up in the car industry.”

Dingell’s wife Debbie once worked as a lobbyist for GM.

When she married the congressman, she became a senior GM executive at an undisclosed salary. And we found the couple has extensive GM assets.

Dingell’s current financial disclosure filed in May lists GM stock worth up to $350,000, options worth up to $1 million more, and a GM pension fund. In 2000, among the Dingells’ GM assets were stock options worth up to $5 million.

And in 1998, the congressman reported selling GM stock options worth up to $1 million dollars.

Dingell wouldn’t agree to an interview.

Gee whiz.

Big Three Spending Millions On Lobbying [CBS]
(Photo: morsteen )

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