Sunday, December 6, 2015

VW Gives Each Congress Member a Car, Emissions Scandal Forgotten

Some of the vehicles VW brought to Washington to dole out to lawmakers. Photo: Marie Coleman/TYDN
WASHINGTON—(TYDN) Federal regulators abruptly dropped their probe Sunday into the Volkswagen emissions scandal, days after the German automaker doled out free vehicles to every member of Congress, TheYellowDailyNews has learned.

While expected, the move shocked analysts who were anticipating that the government would set aside its VW investigation only after the automaker provided each member of Congress a new VW vehicle that was equipped with a trunkload of cash.

“This shows, once again, how easily Big Business can manipulate Congress. Everybody knows that VW was willing to provide trunkloads of cash to make this go away. I expected better from Congress,” Jon Bornstein, a Yale Law School ethicist, told TheYellowDailyNews in an exclusive interview.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader of Kentucky, told TheYellowDailyNews in an exclusive interview that members of Congress each got a 2016 VW model of their choice, plus free maintenance for as long as each member is in office.
McConnell/TYDN file photo

“These vehicles are prone to breaking down, so unlimited maintenance was a great deal for the membership,” said McConnell, a Republican. “We decided not to go with the trunkload of cash because we couldn’t prove it would trickle down to the masses. Besides, VW said the entire scandal was because of a few rogue engineers who tinkered with the emissions software behind the company’s corporate-level backs.”

At an October 8 congressional hearing, VW’s U.S. chief, Michael Horn, told lawmakers that “this was not a corporate decision" to outfit vehicles to dupe emissions tests.

"On behalf of our company, and my colleagues in Germany, I would like to offer a sincere apology for Volkswagen's use of a software program that served to defeat the regular emissions testing regime," Horn told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Horn was emphatic that there was no internal, executive-level decision to program the emissions software to cheat.

The VW scandal came to light in September after researchers from the International Council on Clean Transportation and West Virginia University discovered that when VW vehicles were on the road, they polluted substantially more than when they were being tested for pollution emissions. Nobody could make any sense of how that could be. So the US Environmental Protection Agency threatened not to approve the automaker's 2016 models for sale. In response, the automaker conceded that its software was designed to hoodwink emissions tests for diesel vehicles dating back to 2009.

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