By on January 22, 2015

General Motors CEO Barra and Batey President of GM North America pose next to the Chevrolet Bolt EV electric concept car after it was unveiled during the first press preview day of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit

Since becoming General Motors CEO last January, Mary Barra has netted a few awards for herself, something the National Legal Policy Center sees troubling.

According to Autoblog, the organization believes the numerous awards bestowed upon Barra are a sign that the automaker is buying positive publicity amid its long slog through 2014 after the recalls began in February.

Of note are the awards where GM made a monetary contribution — either through underwriting or donations — to the organizations and events where such things were to occur, like the Appeal of Conscience Foundation’s “The Appeal of Conscience” award bestowed upon Barra in 2014 for “encouraging a standard in which corporate America and global corporations accept responsibility.” There, GM paid $100,000 to underwrite the event, which occurred months after the automaker was taken to the woodshed over its handling of events that led to the February 2014 ignition recall crisis.

Should said contributions be linked to the awards won that year, the NLPC says both the automaker and the charities benefiting from GM’s contributions would find themselves in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. Per president Peter Flaherty:

If the campaign is designed not only to enhance GM’s image with the public, but also to strengthen Ms. Barra’s position within the company, it is inappropriate because it is being conducted with corporate assets.

Flaherty hopes GM will disclose their charitable given voluntarily, but if not, he says his organization will file a shareholder resolution to force the issue during the automaker’s annual meeting in June.

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35 Comments on “NLPC: GM Buying PR, Awards For CEO Mary Barra...”


  • avatar
    Dave M.

    I guess I feel sorry for Barra because she could have been an incredible role model for millions of young girls interested in math and science as the first woman to propel to the top of her business in a heavily male-laden industry. And now even in the best of circumstances she gets an asterisk, like Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong and Tom Brady (only kidding about my man TB).

    • 0 avatar

      Young girls make horrible role model choices – just as young boys do. I’ve never seen a young girl aspiring to be the CEO of a company plagued with recalls and the lack of power under the hood.

      They aren’t interested in cars.

      They’d rather be Michelle Phan: rich from being better looking than other girls- or Kim Kardashian.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Ladies & Gentlemen, presenting a durrent roster of (just a few) Executives of your post pre-packaged Bankruptcy General Motors:

      Mary Barra, CEO:

      [In April of 2014,] Barra testified before Congress that she did not know of the ignition-switch problem until January of this year, when she became CEO. In 2011, she served as GM’s executive vice president of global product development.

      Mary Barra received a letter warning of steering problems associated with certain models of the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion.

      An investigation into ignition-switch defects in several General Motors vehicles revealed Friday the company’s current CEO knew of trouble with the models as early as 2011.

      One of the two Congressional subcommittees probing GM released an email that showed Mary Barra received a letter warning of steering problems associated with certain models of the Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion, two of the cars recalled in February because they contained a deadly flaw.

      http://www.autoblog.com/2014/04/11/investigation-reveals-mary-barra-knew-trouble-2011/

      General Motors spokesrecaller Shag Belch

      MAY 27, 2014
      General Motors recalls every car they’ve ever made

      http://autoblopnik.com/2014/05/27/general-motors-recalls-every-car-theyve-ever-made/

      A General Motors representative announced today that the company is issuing recalls for every single vehicle they have ever produced.

      “The company is issuing recalls for every single vehicle we have ever produced,” said General Motors spokesrecaller Shag Belch.

      Belch said the reasons for the recalls vary from model to model, and include faulty ignition switches (2003-2011 Pontiac G5), cracked axle shafts (2011-2013 Chevrolet Cruze), making their owners look like douchebags with no taste (2001-2006 Chevrolet Avalanche), and what Belch described as “just being sort of crappy” (every GM vehicle designed between 1993 and 2001).

      General Motors CEO Mary “Huggy” Barra

      JULY 1, 2014
      General Motors recalls other manufacturers’ vehicles

      Just a day after issuing six recalls covering 7.6 million of its own vehicles, General Motors announced that it will recall several cars made by other manufacturers.

      “We’re simply running out of our own vehicles to recall,” said General Motors CEO Mary “Huggy” Barra. “The only way we can keep up with this hectic recall pace is to begin recalling other automakers’ products as well.”

      http://autoblopnik.com/2014/07/01/general-motors-recalls-other-manufacturers-vehicles/

      GM spokesbrand Todd Sillifartz

      JULY 8, 2014
      General Motors recalls its recalls

      weeks after recalling every car it has ever made as well as cars made by other manufacturers, General Motors announced that it will issue recalls for several of the recalls it has issued this year.

      “In recent months, our company has issued a large number of recalls covering several General Motors vehicles,” explained GM spokesbrand Todd Sillifartz. “While all of those recalls addressed important safety defects, many of them may have further unintended consequences, and we want to correct these issues as quickly as possible.”

      Sillifartz declined to give a complete list of problems that could be caused by the soon-to-be-recalled recalls, explaining the corporation was still investigating. However, he did list some of the problems caused by the defective recalls,which include killing GM’s stock price, causing owners to panic and blame every single nearly-imperceptible issue on a problem that their vehicle doesn’t even have, and giving the general public the idea that General Motors is completely incompetent despite a hundred years of successfully building cars that usually get people where they want to go without killing them.

      Neither NHTSA nor General Motors have reported any deaths or injuries as a direct result of the affected recalls; however, the recalls are blamed for killing at least fifteen careers and jeopardizing CEO Mary Barra’s chances of ever appearing on Dancing with the Stars.

      Owners of the affected recalls will begin to receive recall recall notices next week telling them that their recall has been recalled, and giving instructions for how to handle their recall’s recall.

      Johan “Come At Me, Brah!” de Nysschen

      Sep 16, 2014 … Newly appointed Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen said the brand has no plans to lower its prices to improve U.S. sales

      http://wot.motortrend.com/1409_new_cadillac_chief_says_no_to_cutting_prices_in_spite_of_slow_sales.html

      Johan de Nysschen, global head of General Motors Company’s (NYSE: GM) Cadillac division, posted quite the Facebook rant last week.

      Among the points Nysschen made in his nearly 500-word epistle were the following:

      Explicit Instructions

      Nysschen started his post by saying, “Been quite a hectic few days. (GM CEO) Mary Barra and (President) Dan Amman have been very explicit in their instructions: restore Cadillac to the pinnacle of global premium brands, not in sales but in aspirational brand character.”

      Suggesting that repeating the past would not yield a different result Nysschen said, “OK, let’s get to work.”

      Mocking The Reaction

      In an almost mocking tone, he ticked off several recent announcements the company had made, followed by public reaction (or lack thereof).

      Nysschen complained that the announcement of a new flagship car got no public reaction.

      He then credited the industry media with a “slight twitch of the left eyebrow” in reaction to Cadillac’s announcement that it would go on a product offensive that would give the company 95-percent coverage in the premium car market.

      He suggested every “armchair marketing expert” had at least 10 opinions to share on the announcement of a “new nomenclature system, to denote hierarchy and accommodate expanded future portfolio.”

      Firing Back At Retirees

      Nysschen directed one of his biggest blasts at GM retirees who suggested the plan to establish Cadillac as a separate unit of General Motors was “the dumbest idea since the Cimmaron.”

      In response to that Nysschen said, “I quietly wonder if any of them (retirees) had a hand in creating that masterful monument to product substance.”

      The Wrath Of Hell

      In response his characterization that the “wrath of hell” had descended on him for announcing that Cadillac would establish its global headquarters in New York because he preferred to live in that city, Nysschen said simply, “This has nothing to do with Detroit. And certainly has nothing to do with where I choose to live. It has everything to do with creating an awesome car company.”

      Distance Must Be Physical

      Nysschen then doubled down on the headquarters move.

      “To create this change in approach,” he said, “Cadillac must put distance between itself and the parent.”

      He didn’t just mean philosophical difference.

      “If we don’t move,” Nysschen said, “nothing will change. Physical relocation forces a change to processes.”

      Related Link: General Motors Company Surges On Citi Buy Rating

      “Don’t Mess With Me”

      Nysschen closed his post by making it clear, the move was on and nothing would change.

      While he told Detroit fans that he loved their city and noted that Cadillac’s success would be Detroit’s success since the majority of jobs would remain in Detroit, he lobbed one final shot.

      “Other than that,” he said, “don’t mess with me.”

      http://www.benzinga.com/news/14/10/4901186/cadillac-president-johan-de-nysschens-epic-facebook-rant

      Melody “Vehicles don’t matter, brands do” CT-Lee

      http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-09-25/what-i-wear-to-work-cadillacs-melody-lee

      • 0 avatar
        zamoti

        I’m going to attach a dynamo to DW’s keyboard and set him up facing a monitor that shows a slideshow of GM products, heavy on Cadillac and occasionally pictures of Melody Lee et al. Gonna get him an IV of Red Bull and sell off the hate-generated electricity he makes until I have enough money to buy (wait for it) a CTS-V wagon.

        :)

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      No need to feel sorry for Mary Barra. She’s done the work to get this far in that organization. It’s easy to sit here on the internets with our relative anonymity and disparage her achievements. But few of us wasting our time criticizing her (and others) for their mistakes have been able to achieve her (their) level of success.

      Hopefully, she will be one of the people to get young girls to STAY interested in math and science. At about age 13 or so, the interest usually fades and it’s damned hard to keep them going. As Vulpine noted, many women do get into cars, technology and etc., but many of us in the “boys club” don’t make it easy for them.

      As for the awards themselves, I’m sure there’s a PR team somewhere that guides these kinds of things. Every company of any decent size has one, and they all do these kinds of things.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Big deal, all industries are loaded with bogus awards that no one remembers or cares about like J D Powers or Motor Trend

  • avatar
    kovakp

    She’s a Honey who can do no wrong. Most of us are benevolent sexists and GM chose a perfect corporate figurine.

    Plus, I vant keess her many places.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    In other news, the right-wing NLPC devotes much of its money to paying salaries and other compensation of about $250k each to the two guys who run it, mostly so that they can issue press releases about people who hold political views that they don’t like.

    This non-profit organization provides a nice chunk of profit for the both of them.

    • 0 avatar
      an innocent man

      >devotes much of its money to paying salaries and other compensation…This non-profit organization provides a nice chunk of profit for (those who run it).<

      So, they're just like the Girl Scouts?

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        Like lots of other junky non-profits, from Democracy for America to the Catholic League. Thoughtful condemnations are beyond the reach of the tinfoil hat crowd, though; that sort of criticism is limited to hateful, hyper-partisan copying and pasting.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Thanks. More Google: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/National_Legal_and_Policy_Center

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    Eh, I bought myself a “Best Dad Ever” coffee mug. I really like it.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Ron Zarrella gave himself an “MBA”, so what’s the big deal?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    There is literally nothing to see here.

    Any PR/AR, media specialist, marketer, etc. can tell you. EVERYONE, and I mean everyone from small business to huge corporations does this. Almost every award, for almost any business accomplishment, is pay to play. All the big analyst houses, pay to play.

    This is only a story because it’s GM, and like the Patriots and “doctored” footballs (something apparently many other teams do) the only reason this is news is it’s GM.

    GAMBLING? Shocked I tell you, shocked!

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I find it hard to believe that MB and other GM execs sat around a table, doing the “Mr.Burns” with their fingers, conspiring to pay $100,000 in return for this bullsh*t award.

    I shall note this in my journal, entitled “Why you should never attempt to make money from anything car related EVER”.

    #1735: When you reach the level of automotive executive, people pay close attention to everything you. REALLY close attention.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed. Seems like much ado about nothing.

      Nobody makes their car choice based upon how many awards the CEO received, and probably 99% of GM buyers couldn’t even name her.

      If GM wants to sell more cars, they could have better spent the $100k on improving the product.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    In order to be considered for many “car of the year” awards bestowed by auto magazines, OEMs with vehicles up for consideration must agree to licensing fees, appearance fees, and ad buys prior to the award announcement. Any OEM not willing to play this game will find their vehicle eliminated from further consideration.

    “Buying” awards in the car business is nothing new. But SOP is to buy the award for a car, not a person. What the article alleges is that fiscal malfeasance has occurred when GM uses funds to buy awards for an individual in order to burnish both personal and corporate reputations. Not cool, say the stockholders. And they’d be right.

    It’s got nothing to do with Barra’s achievements within the company, her suitability as a role model, etc. It does cast doubt on her judgment, however.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    As much as you want to hate GM for all their atrocities, you can’t bring yourself to hate her, let alone punch her in the face.

    GM put the right person in the #1 spot. She’s got the credentials, but it was a casting decision more than anything else.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “GM put the right person in the #1 spot”

      As time goes on, it becomes more and more clear that this was a strategic move on the part of GM’s management and BoD.

      Imagine if some gnarly white dude had to go before Congress to explain GM’s deadly products. Congress would treat him the way they treated Mr. Toyoda during those hearings on the trumped up SUA allegations.

      OTOH, Ms Barra is treated by everyone as if she inherited a bad situation and bad things happen to good people.

      The double standard is alive and well in the US of A.

  • avatar
    RHD

    This is analagous to going to the trophy shop and having a large “1st Place” trophy made up with your name inscribed on it.

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