Remember how Toyota was slapped with a $16.4m fine for allegedly withholding information and delaying recalls? Remember how Toyota was served again with a subpoena for information, what many read as the prelude for another $16.4m fine? (If anyone again says that $16,4m is pocket change, please send me the pocket change.) Well, there are some people in Washington who claim that it’s the U.S. government that might be withholding information.
According to Dow Jones Newswire (via The Nikkei [sub] ) “the Obama administration came under pressure to disclose more information about its investigation of Toyota Motor Corp. with congressional Republicans questioning whether officials are withholding data that could favor Toyota in some crashes.”
Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the senior Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, sent a letter to NHTSA, asking them to fork over crash data that, according to articles in the Wall Street Journal and TTAC article published last week, proves that in many crashes, the driver had his or her foot on the gas instead of the brake.
The Journal said they had it from “people familiar with the crash-data test results” and Joe Barton thinks thos people might be at the NHTSA. As far as the NHTSA or the DOT are concerned, mum’s the word. There are other people who point fingers at Toyota and say that it was Toyota who “planted” that story, but Barton isn’t buying it.
Barton sent a strongly worded letter to NHTSA boss David Strickland, The letterwas also signed by Energy and Commerce Committee members Reps. Ed Whitfield (R., Ky.) and Michael Burgess (R., Texas). The letter says that “it is important for us to know whether NHTSA has EDR data showing that some incidents of reported sudden unintended acceleration were the result of pedal misapplication.”
The Republicans wave a big stick: They point out in the letter that the House is expected to vote soon on a far-reaching vehicle-safety bill that would up the financial ante considerably, and could even land car executive in jail. Subliminal message: If you want that law to pass anytime soon, hand over the information. Too bad there is no clause in any law that the fine gets refunded if the government withholds information. That’s not the way it works.