ABC News’ Mary Bruce (@marykbruce) reports:
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is asking former car czar and current White House Advisor Ron Bloom to “clarify” his recent testimony before the committee and whether he made a pro-union statement during the auto industry bailout in 2009.
“[The] Committee considers the veracity of witness testimony essential to conducting serious oversight of the federal government and how taxpayers’ dollars are spent,” the letter from Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R –Calif., and two fellow Republicans states.
Last month, Bloom, the current Assistant to the President for Manufacturing Policy, testified before the Committee on the General Motors bailout. During his time as a Senior Advisor on the President’s Task Force on the Automotive Industry, Bloom played a key role in the process that led to the reorganization of General Motors and Chrysler and worked closely with the companies, lenders and the union.
At the hearing, Indiana Republican Rep. Dan Burton asked Bloom if he said at a 2009 farewell party for the administration’s autos team that “I did this all for the union.”
Initially Bloom denied the comment, but later said he was misquoted:
Rep. Burton: Well did you say this at a dinner? There was a dinner and it was reported by David Shepardson, Washington correspondent for the Detroit News. At a farewell dinner of the Auto Task Force held in the restaurant Rosa Mexicano in late July 2009 that you allegedly said “I did this all for the unions.”
Mr. Bloom: No I did not say that.
Rep. Burton: You didn’t say that?
Mr. Bloom: No sir.
Rep. Burton: So, you were misquoted?
Mr. Bloom: That’s correct.
Rep. Burton: Well I’m going to call that guy up and ask him if you said that. You know that you are under oath here?
Mr. Bloom: I’m fully aware.
Rep. Burton: You made no comment like that at all?
Mr. Bloom: No sir
The comment originally comes from a book written by Steven Rattner, Bloom’s former boss on the Auto Task Force. In Overhaul Rattner writes the following description of the dinner: “I thanked my colleagues for the enormous sacrifices that each had made. ‘In this deal, in this incarnation,’ I said, ‘you have epitomized what it means to serve your country.’ Fortunately, after I spoke, Ron Bloom was there to lighten the mood. ‘I did this all for the unions!’ he jokingly declared. Everyone laughed and the war stories began to fly.”
The quote was later republished in a story in The Detroit News.
"It appears that either a respected reporter and your former boss in the Obama Administration have both given inaccurate accounts of your comments to the public, or your testimony was not completely truthful," the lawmakers wrote in their Wednesday letter. "Therefore, if you would like to amend or clarify your testimony for the record, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible.”
According to the White House, however, the comment comes from just one source, Rattner, who clearly writes that Bloom made the comment as a joke.