09 February 2010

Toyota's West Virginia Connection

The Associated Press counts U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., among the friends in high places for Japanese automaker Toyota.

"Lawmakers on the committees investigating Toyota's massive recall represent states where Toyota has factories and the coveted well-paying manufacturing jobs they bring," the article said. "Some members of Congress have been such cheerleaders for Toyota that the public may wonder how they can act objectively as government watchdogs for auto safety and oversight."

The Senate's lead Toyota investigator, Rockefeller "has known Toyota's founding family since the 1960s," AP reports. "He was so closely involved with Toyota's selection of Buffalo, W.Va., for a factory that he slogged through cornfields with Toyota executives scouting locations and still mentions his role in the 1990s deal to this day."

The article notes further that a former Rockefeller aide and staff lawyer, David L. Strickland, is the new head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Rockefeller's committee is expected to review whether the agency "acted aggressively enough toward Toyota," it said.

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