NLPC: GM Buying PR, Awards For CEO Mary Barra

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
nlpc gm buying pr awards for ceo mary barra

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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  • Crabspirits Crabspirits on Jan 22, 2015

    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.

    • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jan 22, 2015

      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.

  • Domestic Hearse Domestic Hearse on Jan 22, 2015

    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.

  • DenverMike DenverMike on Jan 22, 2015

    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.

    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Jan 22, 2015

      "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.

  • RHD RHD on Jan 22, 2015

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