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Government and Politics

IRS-type scandal unlikely to spread to car dealer closures
Rep. Jim Renacci is investigating whether the Treasury targeted conservatives in the closings of auto dealerships, but a 2010 report found no smoking gun

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
Rep. Jim Renacci is questioning whether the Treasury Dept. played politics in the 2009 closures of auto dealers. A 2010 independent report shows the Treasury had little oversight of the closure criteria, and that might have been the problem.
Courtesy of U.S. House of Reps.
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The ongoing IRS scandal has raised the specter of political favoritism in another program overseen by the Treasury Department - the closures of hundreds of car dealerships during the auto bailout.

But WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports the targeting of conservative car dealers will be hard to prove.

LISTEN: Economics not politics issue for dealers

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Wadsworth Republican Jim Renacci and Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly are asking the Treasury department to hand over all records  regarding decisions to close GM and Chrysler dealerships during the government structured bankruptcies.  GM closed Renacci’s dealership in 2010 as part of the restructuring, one of the reasons he cites for running for Congress.  Renacci’s office did not respond to interview requests. 

Baily Wood, spokesman for the National Association of Auto Dealers says he understands Renacci’s questions in light of the IRS targeting of conservative groups.  But his organization is more concerned with the economics rather than the politics of the closures.

“I think at this point we need to move forward," says Wood, "the real issue here was that for really no reason when the administration required that almost 1,100 dealerships be closed that threatened about 100,000 jobs, and few took that into account.”

A report issued in 2010 by a congressionally appointed special investigator found that Treasury officials exerted little oversight of the automakers closure criteria, but for unknown reasons, GM did not follow its own guidelines in deciding which dealerships to close.

Related Links & Resources
Snopes debunks claims that conservative car dealers were targeted

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