Dealergate 2: It gets worse

Way back in the 1960s, Chrysler Corporation had a very successful ad campaign for its Dodge Division, portraying their Dodge dealers as “the good guys in the white hats.” Some ongoing research about the way the closings of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealerships are being handled indicates that the Obama administration might think that some of the “good guys” are much better than others.

Since Doug Ross reported that many of the dealers on the list of Chrysler outlets to be closed were donors mostly to Republicans, attention has now been focused on the list of dealerships which are slated to remain open. Some preliminary findings, as well as related news, have bombshell potential.

First of all, bear in mind that these early findings are only preliminary, and the entire list has not been researched. It’s a process which takes time, but several people are on the case. Joey Smith is one of them, and he’s set up a website where you can track his progress. Gateway Pundit has also been following the story here and here.

Joey’s first big find involves RLJ-McLarty-Landers, a company which operates six Chrysler dealerships in the South and lower Midwest. All six of the dealerships have been chosen to remain open. Most interesting about the partnership, however, are the partners. RLJ-McLarty-Landers is owned by Steve Landers, Thomas McLarty and Robert Johnson. Who are these guys?

Landers is a big-time, fourth-generation auto dealer. In addition to the six Chrysler dealerships, he has a number of other car franchises, including Ford and Toyota dealerships in Little Rock, and he also acquired the Harley Davidson dealership there.

Little Rock is Bill Clinton’s old stomping ground, and lo and behold, the Thomas MCLarty who is the second partner in the group is “Mack” McClarty, a long time Clinton associate who served the former president as chief of staff during their days in the White House.

The third partner in RLJ-Mclarty-Landers is Robert Johnson, who founded Black Entertainment Television and is a co-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats of the National Basketball Association.

Although Landers has a history of contributing to Republicans, his two partners have deep ties to the Democratic Party. McLarty actively campaigned for Obama last year, and Johnson has been a major donor to Democrats’ campaigns for years. Among Joey’s findings:

So far, RLJ-McCarty-Landers will have 8 competing dealerships total[ly] eliminated from 3 of their markets: Lee’s Summit, MO; Branson, MO; and Bossier City, LA.

The eight dealerships being shut down are owned by people who have made no political contributions since at least 2004. Again, this is an early finding from the list of dealerships which will remain open, and it may not mean much that the six outlets owned by the company are safe from closure unless a pattern of big time Democrat cronies and contributors is established in the safe list.

Far more damning, however is this news. The Astute Blogger has found a Reuters story which could spell trouble for the Obama administration if it turns out to bear fruit:

Lawyer Leonard Bellavia, of Bellavia Gentile & Associates, who represents some of the terminated dealers, said he deposed Chrysler President Jim Press on Tuesday and came away with the impression that Press did not support the plan.

“It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers,” Bellavia said. “It really wasn’t Chrysler’s decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President’s automotive task force.”

If what the dealers’ lawyer contends is true, then it is the Obama administration, not Chrysler management, making the life or death decisions for the dealerships. At best, this entire operation has at least a high potential for political manipulation of the Chrysler dealership network, and the worst remains to be determined. The sheer arrogance of it almost defies belief. You have to ask yourself, “They really couldn’t be this stupid, could they?”

Stay tuned…

– JP