High-Power Lobbyists Pull Strings for Chrysler
Cerberus, the private company behind Chrysler, is investing $2 million in lobbying efforts to send big name players, like former VP Dan Quayle, to Congress.
With a temporary bailout deal just over the horizon for the Big Three, one of the companies is not like the others. In 2007, Cerberus Capital Management, a private equity investment firm specializing in rejuvenating dying companies, acquired Chrysler and its financing arm. The idea was to flip the company for big money, but turning around the company—with its product line full of big trucks and SUVs—was harder than expected.
Chrysler continues to lose money and cut jobs. Meanwhile, Cerberus refuses to inject its own capital into the failing automaker. Instead, the company is investing $2 million in lobbying efforts and sending every big name it can to Congress to pull strings for a bailout. The top two lobbyists are Dan Quayle and John Snow.
Quayle is most famous for being a late night talk show punch line during his tenure as Vice President, but since retiring from politics he’s spent most of his time fundraising, golfing, sitting on corporate boards, and lobbying. Currently, he serves as a spokesperson for Cerberus and runs one of its international units. According to The New York Times, Quayle has actively courted Congress on Cerberus’s behalf.
No word on whether Quayle thinks that “bailout” has an “e” at the end of it.
Though Snow’s term as Treasury Secretary could be described as uneventful, one thing that can be said about the man is that he knows the right time to leave a party—just ask his successor, Henry Paulson. Snow is now the chairman of Cerberus, and has lobbied Paulson repeatedly on the bailout issue in recent weeks. One wonders how heavily Snow’s connection to the Treasury Department factored into his hiring at the Cerberus—he’s joined on the lobbying team by Christopher Smith, a former chief of staff at Treasury.
Several lawmakers have questioned why Chrysler—which is expected to be sold off or merged into another auto company shortly—should be sitting next to GM and Ford asking for money. What about Chrysler’s dire straights couldn’t be solved with an influx of capital from Cerberus? Would granting the automaker’s request just amount to a giveaway for Cerberus or whatever company ends up acquiring Chrysler?
“ I’m not saying they have to get all the money from Cerberus, but at least show a good faith effort… Chrysler should come back to Congress and say, ‘This is what we’ve asked Cerberus for, and this was their response.’ I think the public is due that. ”
Other Cerberus lobbyists include John Breaux, a retired three-term Senator from Louisiana, now working for Patton Boggs, an influential lobbying firm; Billy J. Cooper, also a partner at Patton Boggs; and David Hobbs, who served as President Bush’s personal lobbyist on Capitol Hill.