By on March 5, 2010

Instead of solving the truly pressing needs of the land, Republicans and Democrats are publicly squabbling over the relevance and veracity of the Biller “smoking gun” documents that claim to prove that Toyota hid safety problems. U.S. Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter on Feb. 26 to Yoshimi Inaba, president and chief executive officer of Toyota Motor North America Inc., that said the documents provided “evidence that Toyota deliberately withheld relevant electronic records that it was legally required to produce” in lawsuits. Towns went on to say that  the documents “shed some light on Toyota’s handling of the sudden unintended acceleration problem” and “indicate a systematic disregard for the law. Not so, says U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California. And he has a smoking gun of his own:

In a response dated March 2, Issa wrote that Towns’ conclusions were based on “conjecture and altered quotations” and that Towns’ letter “frequently misquotes and mischaracterizes” the documents. From a law.com article:

Issa cited Dallas plaintiffs attorney Todd Tracy, who reopened 17 personal injury cases based on Biller’s claims but voluntarily dismissed them after reviewing the documents. Tracy said that they failed to reveal any “concealment, destruction, or pattern of discovery abuse…In a telephone interview on Thursday, Tracy told The National Law Journal that Issa’s characterization was correct. One box contained 15 copies of the same deposition, Tracy said. Another contained research about bringing a wrongful termination suit. Tracey found 50 copies of Biller’s resume and e-mails that Biller wrote to colleagues, but no replies. “These were supposed to be the hottest documents in the history of jurisprudence, the way they were portrayed,” Tracy said. “The material was published material. Give me a break.”

In many years of litigating against Toyota, Tracy said, he never had any trouble securing discovery material. “I never had any trouble getting it at all,” Tracy said.

Towns had his comeback:  “Mr. Issa’s comments do not address the central issue — has Toyota been illegally withholding documents for years. We need to continue cutting through the smokescreen put up by Toyota and keep our eyes on the ball.”  Leave it to a congressman to use the word “smokescreen” with meaning.

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14 Comments on “Biller Secret Toyota Documents “Published Material”; Pissing Match Breaks Out In Congress...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    We need more fisticuffs in North American politics. Heck, even a thrown or banged shoe, at least.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      I’ve always held the belief that making them wrestle for votes would be a better system. Actually the pre-match posturing and hype are already in place…..

    • 0 avatar
      CatFan78

      Kind of looks like the Dems are out to get Toyota. Committee heads distorting facts for political gain —- never !

      In the last week alone, GM, Nissan, Honda, and several other (non-Toyota companies recalled almost 3 million new vehicles. Yes, 3 million recalls in the last week alone and none were Toyota. Where is the 24/7 news on these? Where is the congressional outrage?

      Until Obama and the Dems get off the backs of big business like Toyota, we are never going to start adding jobs. All employers are afraid to hire because of additional taxes, health care legislation, cap and trade, etc. This is the most anti-business administration we have ever seen.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      “Until Obama and the Dems get off the backs of big business like Toyota, we are never going to start adding jobs. All employers are afraid to hire because of additional taxes, health care legislation, cap and trade, etc. This is the most anti-business administration we have ever seen.”

      Baloney.

      Manufacturing and service will hire if there is profitable demand. Until the domestic economy turns around, or the US starts manufacturing products that are desired and competitive in overseas markets, there will be no demand and, hence, no improvement in hiring or need to make capital investments.

      Ooh cool, a new style edit page with a 60-minute timer. Good improvements Ed! Kudos!

      BTW, isn’t that Toyota Mega-Dealer Roger Penske with his back to the camera tossing the punch? ;O)

    • 0 avatar
      swhelan

      How many people have those other recalled cars killed, Catty?

    • 0 avatar
      Btrig

      @CatFan78:
      Blaming Democrats seems a bit silly. The only real difference between our two parties is which corporate overlords own them.

      @swhelan:
      Cars don’t kill people, bad drivers kill people. Many years back I had a hot rodded VW type 3 (we called it “the deathmobile”), and one morning a problem with the dual carb throttle linkage caused VERY sudden UA for me. Because I actually know how to drive, it took less than 2 seconds for me to have the car in neutral and turned off. These stories of “demonic cars running amock” are absurd. It’s truly sad that some people have been killed, but they weren’t killed by evil cars, just bad drivers.

  • avatar
    swhelan

    Where did Issa’s wealth come from? (He’s the richest member of the House.) His company made the Viper alarm, Toyota was one of the company’s first and biggest customers. Toyota made Issa very, very wealthy. Issa drives a Lexus in California, his wife had (has?) a Prius. Though Issa has divested his ownership in the electronics company, you can’t divest history.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      He must also be tight with the Lexus dealer that provided the Saylor death car because Issa personally delivered an apology to the mother of Saylor’s wife as she testified to Congress.

    • 0 avatar
      swhelan

      Was the apology Issa delivered on the dealer’s behalf? Do you have a link to a transcript?

      Issa and all other reps who have vested interest in Toyota shouldn’t be involved in these hearings.

  • avatar
    crash sled

    I agree, let ‘em duke it out. There’s too much “my good friend” and “the distinguished gentlemen from…” in our politics. Let’s throw down.

    They’re scumbags… we know they’re scumbags… they know they’re scumbags… they know that we know they’re scumbags… and we know that they know it. So there’s nothing to lose here. Let’s get it on.

    Speaking of Toyota, the best parliamentary boxing matches are in Japan and Korea. Those guys don’t mess around out there on the chamber floor. It’s like gang warfare, they split off into groups and ambush each other, and you don’t want to get caught alone or you get pummeled.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    @catfan78

    +1!

  • avatar
    Mungooz

    Why is it so difficult for the brain dead Republican commenters here and elsewhere to understand that the Toyota “mysterious” acceleration recalls are newsworthy because the alleged problem(s) are killing people? A recall mandated because a window doesn’t roll down is not equally important. What is it with these conspiracy nuts? The UAW, in concert with Detroit’s salvaged manufacturers, have conjured up this controversy? Get real. Geez! And that Issa guy, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    “Pissing match” conjures up a different picture.


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