Another House committee jumps into Delphi pensions fight, demands documents from Geithner

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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The House Education and Workforce Committee is renewing its previous demands for President Barack Obama’s administration to turn over documents related to the scandal surrounding the termination of 20,000 Delphi nonunion retirees’ pensions during the 2009 auto industry bailout.

“It’s past time for the Obama administration to stop hiding the facts and start cooperating with congressional oversight,” committee chairman Rep. John Kline said in a Wednesday news release. “For more than three years, Delphi’s non-union workers have been demanding answers about decisions made in secret that weakened their retirement security. They deserve to know who in the administration helped pick winners and losers and why.”

According to a letter Kline and Tennessee Republican Rep. Phil Roe — the chairman of the committee’s subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions — sent Wednesday to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) director Josh Gotbaum, the administration ignored a document request in late 2009 and early 2010 relating to the pensions and Delphi’s bankruptcy.

The subcommittee held a hearing on Dec. 2, 2009, the letter said, examining “how workers and retirees will be negatively affected by Delphi’s bankruptcy and the federal government’s restructuring of GM.”

“Immediately following the December 2009 hearing, committee members wrote to Secretary Geithner requesting the immediate release of all documents and correspondence relating to the federal government’s involvement in the restructuring of GM and Delphi’s pension plans,” Kline and Roe wrote. “The Treasury Department responded on April 21, 2010, with a letter assuring members it would provide documents and correspondence consistent with its obligations under applicable law, as soon as possible.”

“Despite this assurance, no documents or communications have been provided by the Treasury Department.”

The letter and the committee’s press release cite two recent stories in The Daily Caller that illuminated the recent history with internal Obama administration documents and communications.

One story demonstrated that political officials from the White House and the Treasury Department drove the cutoff of the 20,000 non-union workers’ pension plans. (RELATED: Emails: Geithner, Treasury drove cutoff of non-union Delphi workers’ pensions)

Another showed how those same administration officials enriched their former firms and that they possibly lined their own pockets with spoils earned off terminating those people’s pensions. (RELATED: Emails: Obama officials enriched former firms, possibly themselves with auto bailout)

The email evidence contradicts sworn testimony in which several Obama administration figures have said the decision to terminate the Delphi pensions came from the PBGC.

The PBGC is a federal government agency that handles private-sector pension benefits issues. Its charter calls for independent representation of pension beneficiaries’ interests. Federal law requires that PBGC is the only government entity that may initiate termination of a pension or move toward doing so.

The renewed call for evidence makes the House Education and Workforce Committee the third congressional committee to push in recent weeks for answers about the Delphi scandal. The House oversight committee and Ohio Republican Rep. Mike Turner have led the charge.

A deadline passed on Sept. 7 for the Treasury Department, White House and PBGC to provide documents on the scandal to the House Ways and Means committee. It’s unclear whether each of those government entities complied with that deadline. (RELATED: House Ways and Means chairman demands Delphi pension termination documents from Obama administration)

Geithner and Gotbaum’s deadline to provide documents to the Education and Workforce Committee documents is Sept. 26.

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Matthew Boyle