By on July 18, 2014

General Motors CEO Mary Barra Testifies Before Senate Committee About GM's Recalls

Under fire from the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee for not having fired General Motors’ top counsel Michael Millikin, CEO Mary Barra defended her decision to keep him on the company payroll during Thursday’s hearing over the February 2014 ignition recall crisis.

Automotive News reports Barra believed Millikin, who has served as GM’s general counsel since 2009, to be “a man of incredibly high integrity” in spite of a number of his charges failing him and the automaker, five of whom were among the 15 let go from the company last month as a result of the Valukas report.

For his part, Millikin testified that he has enacted a number of changes into how his department functions, including bringing in an outside firm to review the automaker’s litigation practices, as well as bringing to his attention any lawsuits linked to a death and/or injury as a result of GM’s products. Millikin also claimed he was not aware of the issues surrounding the out-of-spec ignition switch until the February 2014 recall was issued.

Other highlights in today’s hearing include the testimony of GM supplier Delphi CEO Rodney O’Neal, proclaiming that said switch, despite being out-of-spec, “met the requirements” put forth by the automaker; Kenneth Feinberg’s testimony, where he explained to the Senate committee how he would help affected consumers find the proof needed to process a claim, as well as stating the list of eligible vehicles under the Feinberg plan was one of the few parts of the plan decided upon by GM; and consumer advocate Ralph Nader calling upon the automaker to bring aboard an independent ombudsman who could serve as a firewall from retribution for employees wanting to blow the whistle on a potential problem, then report the problems to the CEO.

The Senate committee will hold a separate hearing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over their part of the February 2014 GM ignition recall, though no date has been given thus far.

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11 Comments on “Barra Defends GM Top Lawyer In Second US Senate Hearing...”


  • avatar
    geee

    Those would be the perfect words to describe him : “a man of incredibly high integrity”, yup, so high, it’s literally incredible. Because really, it’s just like, um, not believable, unless you are incredibly high.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “…consumer advocate Ralph Nader calling upon the automaker to bring aboard an independent ombudsman who could serve as a firewall from retribution for employees wanting to blow the whistle on a potential problem, then report the problems to the CEO.”

    You know what, you have to give it to Ralph. That’s a really, really good idea in any company.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      There are ways around an ombudsman – most newspapers have one, to little effect. The person basically runs the complaint/official explanation desk. I don’t know how one would prevent management from canning people – it’s often the CEO, to whom the ombudsman answers, who approves the firings, or even initiates them.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      It’s the Same Old GM if Barra is pretending that Millikin was doing his job responsibly. They fired his subordinates instead. Even the dopey look on her face says “patsy.”

      I’m disgusted.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        Give her a break. There’s no telling what dirt Millikin has on Mary Barra. She’s too new on the job to have the machinery in place to “make it look like an accident”. She has to defend the guy until she can devise another way to dump him.

        • 0 avatar
          bomberpete

          Sorry, but that is a BS excuse. She’s CEO of a $155 billion global company that’s acknowledged its monumental guilt and negligence in a cover-up of its own making. If Barra has to worry about what dirt the company’s head lawyer has on her, then she isn’t up to the job.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            It is a BS excuse BUT, it is still all about politics in the company. No one that has been with a major company this long is squeaky clean.

            And it also gives credence to the thought offered by one of the B&B that Mary Barra was promoted so she would be the fall ‘guy’ when all the pent-up recalls would come to light, because the government would go easier on a woman CEO. And they have!

            Besides, what we’re seeing here is only the tip of the iceberg. There were long time rumbles about all sorts of safety issues with GM cars. It would not surprise me if other lawsuits and judgments will be revisited as this debacle unwinds. I heard about a court case that will be reopened because a woman pleaded guilty in a case that is now directly linked to the ignition switch failure.

            Now that the other automakers are also jumping on this recall bandwagon, it is actually to the benefit of the car buyers. But the underlying core of the problem, the suppliers who make faulty parts, is not addressed. So there will be more recalls in the future, pretty much across all brands sold in the US who use to same suppliers.

  • avatar
    wolfinator

    Ever since a certain notorious Editor left TTAC, there has been a hole in this site’s coverage. A hole that used to filled by stories I can only describe as “the many faces of Carlos Ghosn”.

    I’m glad to see this new Mary Barra series coming in as a replacement.

  • avatar
    Jasper2

    With so many fine automobile brands available today to the consumer why do people keep buying GM products? Don’t people get that GM doesn’t care about the customer?


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