GM stops providing cars to both conventions

August 28, 2012
GM stops providing cars to both conventions
By DAVID SHEPARDSON / Detroit News Washington Bureau
General Motors Co. has ended its more than 30-year practice of providing cars to the Republican and Democratic party conventions.

The Detroit automaker supplied hundreds of cars, free, to both national conventions dating back to 1980, when Republicans met in Detroit and Democrats gathered in New York.

In 2008, GM provided about 400 cars to each convention.

James Davis, a spokesman for the Republican National Convention, said the convention does not have an official auto provider.

“We are working with a number of entities, including rentals. Additionally, we have hired a fleet of approximately 450 buses to transport people to and from the convention venues,” he said.

At the 2008 conventions, GM lobbyists — along with domestic rivals — worked to secure support for emergency government assistance as auto sales started to fall. Lobbyists for Detroit’s Big Three carmakers worked the party conventions for support to win billions in low-cost government loans to help them avoid collapse.

GM received a $49.5 billion U.S. bailout — and about $10 billion from the Canadian government. GM underwent a bankruptcy restructuring in mid-2009 and the U.S. Treasury still holds 500 million shares of stock in the automaker, or a 26.5 percent stake on a fully diluted basis.

GM — still derisively called “Government Motors” by some critics — has taken a harder line on political activities than in previous years. In May, it barred Vice President Joe Biden making a political speech at a GM plant in Toledo. Instead, Biden spoke at a United Auto Workers hall.

But some GM executives have donated to the presidential candidates. The Center for Responsive Politics says GM employees have donated $21,905 to Obama since 2011 and $7,600 to Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign.

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