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Eye Opener: NHTSA won't give GOP Toyota docs

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Tuesday! A top House Republican is accusing the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration of withholding documents regarding what Toyota knew about mechanical problems with its vehicles before the issue became an international embarrassment for the company.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Monday that agency officials are selectively interpreting federal case law regarding when an agency can share confidential business information with lawmakers.

NHTSA has been sharing information with Congress since February but recently has sent confidential Toyota information to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, per the request of the panel's top Democrats. NHTSA lawyers, citing federal case law from the 1970s, said they can't share the information with Issa unless the Oversight Committee's chairman requests the information. Though the Oversight panel held the first hearings on Toyota braking concerns, Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) hasn't pushed for information as vigorously as Issa.

"When the White House and Congress are controlled by the same party, as is the case today, Congress has a known tendency to 'drop the ball' and not conduct sufficiently rigorous oversight over the administration," Issa wrote in response to NHTSA's decision, suggesting the agency does in fact have the right to share the information with him.

So should NHTSA withhold Toyota's sensitive business information or hand it over for review?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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By Ed O'Keefe  | April 13, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Congress, Eye Opener, Oversight  | Tags:  Darrell Issa, Edolphus Towns, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Toyota, United States, United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce, White House  
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NHTSA is 100% correct, and the POST should do some basic research on the subject. Your run-of-the-mill Congressman has no greater right than you do to get confidential business information from the Government. He is treated as no different from the general public requesting information under the Freedom of Information Act. Confidential business or financial information is not releasable, and the general public should be glad about that. Would you want your neighbor to get any confidential business or financial information that the Government happens to have about YOU or your business? No. Unless it is a Committee Chairman asking, they are treated the same as the general public. Darrell Issa knows this; it's been the law for ages. He's really just angry that he's not a committee chair, but an ordinary Congressman.

Posted by: gasmonkey | April 13, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

The request for the documents has more to do with the oversight on the Senate committee -- wow, our Feds were zealous going after Toyota -- a Successful automaker with plants in several states -- like Kentucky, and without Unions, hmmmmmmmmmm, how has Government Motors and Dodge been doing lately? Can we give them a little boost by putting the hammer to Toyota? Interesting thought, the new Hyundai Sonata that is produced in Alabama may be next -- we can't have those Koreans producing a better product the Chevy, right?

Posted by: linuxman1 | April 13, 2010 7:40 AM | Report abuse

It's interesting to note that at these foreign autoplants in the U.S. the workers make more in wages than their counterparts in Unionized jobs.

The difference is that the automakers at unionized plants have to pay for featherbedding and non-productive workers to keep union ranks high.

So they managed to bankrupt GM & Chrysler, with Ford staggered under this unproductive roll.

I think Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and all these non-union plants are an embarrassment to the unions so they don't mind every dirty trick in the book to crush them.

Unfortunately, the press seems more taken with the Toyota story than people are. I don't even like Toyota cars, but I would consider buying one just to piss off the unions and the Democrats.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | April 13, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Ed, please get the name of the agency straight. It's the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There's no "and" in its name.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 13, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Rep. Issa, how many docs on the phoney Iraq War did George W., your leader, turn over to Democrats???? How many totally redacted docs did he make public after years of stonewalling? Stop trying to subvert the American people and start working for them, or your days in office will be numbered.

Posted by: shapiromarilyn | April 13, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Issa has the right to work to convince the appropriate committee heads to get the information. He's a legislator, he should go out and influence his peers to achieve his goals. That's the job description.

Posted by: kemurph | April 13, 2010 11:10 AM | Report abuse

What does Issa hope to accomplish? If you read the NHTSA's reports (available on-line Mr. Issa), Toyota's safety problems date back, at least, to 2002-2004.

Posted by: JimZ1 | April 13, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I doubt any of the various Washington operations will freely pass on any and all information to just any committee member who asks. In this case, for instance, it's not the head of the committee who's making the request.

This is a good committee but it also has other important irons in the fire to concentrate on, irons like the "Restroom Gender Parity in Federal Buildings Act".

But in all seriousness, the Republicans have been doing all they can to roadblock virtually everything. So .. in each request, it's certainly understandable when we see information sources finding the need to weigh in on whether any given request is truly sincere or simply political in nature.

Posted by: kcooper35 | April 13, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Hey, the Republicans set the rules for this when they ran the Congress and the Executive Branch. Minority members have every right to file a FOIA request.

Posted by: westomoon | April 13, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Elections have consequences.

Posted by: jiji1 | April 13, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

"ombudsman" posted: It's interesting to note that at these foreign autoplants in the U.S. the workers make more in wages than their counterparts in Unionized jobs.

Really? Yet you anti-union conspiracy folks are paid by the corporations to constantly whine that union worker wage costs are the cause of all the problems in America. Those darn workers are evil because they believe in having a voice in the corporation for which they work is the American way.

They are evil because they want to be able to live a middle class life with a middle class wife/husband and a couple of middle class kids.

Yah - - it's just got to be a conspiracy by the evil union workers.


Posted by: lquarton | April 13, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

It seems that todays Congress doesn't see the many things that aren't Constitutional. One is this department, Congress is actually suppose to be the ones that observe the Highway Safety another is the Department of Treasury. Constitutionaly if anything is withheld to Congress by the Treasurer is considered a felony. It actually states in the Constitution under Article I: Section: 8; that Congress shall have the power to coin money, reulate the Value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures; which means that the Treasurer and the Secretary of the Treasury are just that, a secretary. They are the people that do the paper work.

Posted by: mjj4677 | April 14, 2010 3:13 AM | Report abuse

Get Glenn Beck's tea-bag out of your mouth and maybe you can tell the truth. The non-union plants are hiring part-time workers at an alarming rate to avoid paying any benefits, and that includes vacation and overtime pay. No they don't pay higher wages, the wages are about the same now in union and non-union. The job security is however another matter, at a non-union plant, the job you have this morning is not assured this afternoon and the reasons for dismissal can be minute and for the most part unexplained.

Those listening to Sarah Palen, Glenn Beck and Flush Fatback really should arm themselves with facts before making ridiculous statements covered with tea-stains.

Posted by: Kudzu1 | April 14, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Kudzu1, sounds like you're teabagging your speling teacher.

Posted by: jiji1 | April 14, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

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