Blackburn Blasts Committee at Toyota Hearing

Brentwood Republican Marsha Blackburn accused her colleagues of playing politics at Tuesday’s hearing on Toyota’s safety problems. She chastised committee members for being slow to react.

Many lawmakers accused Toyota officials of hiding the company’s accelerator problems to save money. Blackburn says she asked Toyota and government officials to investigate the issue three years ago. She said other members are jumping on the issue now that it’s in the news. As lawmakers got loud with witnesses, Blackburn asked them not to play politics.

“I’m starting to get a little bit concerned about the tone that is surrounding it. This should not be a trial.”

Toyota claims to provide over 9,000 manufacturing jobs in Tennessee. Blackburn said the company needs to improve the safety of its cars for numerous reasons.

“This is a very, very serious issue involving the loss of lives. In addition, it has resulted in the loss of jobs and the loss of thousands of paychecks are being sacrificed.”

Ronda and Eddie Smith of Sevierville told the committee about an incident in 2006 in which their Lexus suddenly surged to more than 100 miles per hour. They said that episode convinced them Toyota’s problem was with its computer systems, not its pedals or floor mats, as the company claims. The Smiths also said they complained to Toyota to no avail.

This report was produced by Capitol News Connection reporter Matt Laslo.

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