Creditors to Chrysler describe negotiations with the company and the Obama administration as “a farce,” saying the administration was bent on forcing their hands using hardball tactics and threats.
Conversations with administration officials left them expecting that they would be politically targeted, two participants in the negotiations said.
Although the focus has so been on allegations that the White House threatened Perella Weinberg, sources familiar with the matter say that other firms felt they were threatened as well. None of the sources would agree to speak except on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of political repercussions.
The sources, who represent creditors to Chrysler, say they were taken aback by the hardball tactics that the Obama administration employed to cajole them into acquiescing to plans to restructure Chrysler. One person described the administration as the most shocking “end justifies the means” group they have ever encountered. Another characterised Obama was “the most dangerous smooth talker on the planet- and I knew Kissinger.” Both were voters for Obama in the last election.
One participant in negotiations said that the administration’s tactic was to present what one described as a “madman theory of the presidency” in which the President is someone to be feared because he was willing to do anything to get his way. The person said this threat was taken very seriously by his firm.
The White House has denied the allegation that it threatened Perella Weinberg.
Last week Obama singled out the firms that continue to oppose his plan for Chrysler, saying he would not stand with them. Perella Weinberg says it was convinced to support the plan by this stark drawing of a line between firms that have the president’s backing and those that did not. They didn’t want to be on the wrong side of Obama. Privately, administration officials have expressed confidence that other firms will switch sides for this reason.
These allegations add to the picture of an administration willing to use intimidation to win over support for its Chrysler plans–and then categorically deny it.