General Motors minority dealers are being asked to ante up $5,000 each for a legal defense fund for the former leader of the company's minority dealer development program - just in case.
Jim Bradley, who owns Saturn of Ann Arbor and Jim Bradley Buick-Pontiac-GMC in Ann Arbor, Mich., said General Motors Minority Dealers Association board members voted in favor of the fund. He is spearheading the effort.
The letters were sent to GM minority dealers April 27 on association stationery, asking them to contribute $5,000 to help Lee McDaniel if the need arises. If the money is not needed, it will be returned to the contributors. The letter was signed by Bradley.
Bradley declined to say how much he hopes to raise, or how much has been collected. As of Dec, 31, 1997, GM had 280 minority dealers.
Fred Poe, owner of Southgate Pontiac-GMC in Southgate, Mich., and president of the GM minority dealer group, declined to comment on the letter.
McDaniel, 52, stepped down as general director of minority dealer development in April at the request of GM. In a letter to the minority dealers, GM said it is conducting an internal investigation to look into allegations of improprieties in the program.
According to GM spokesman Jim Farmer, McDaniel is on a leave with full pay and benefits.
Eric Peterson, formerly GM's general director of dealer policy, was named general director of the program.
Dealers say GM has told them that McDaniel is not the target of the investigation, and that the allegations involve improprieties that may have occurred within the program while he was manager.
Bradley, who has been a dealer for 25 years, said he started the fund with $5,000 of his own money. He said he sent the letter because McDaniel has championed the cause of minority dealers at GM.
'He didn't put me in business. I never called him and asked for anything, I don't owe him anything,' said Bradley. 'I've sat on the sidelines and watched him. He has dedicated his career to helping minority dealers.'
Bradley said he had numerous pledges from other dealers.
William Perkins, owner of Dearborn Pontiac-Nissan in Dearborn, Mich., said he sent his $5,000 check a few days after Bradley's letter went out.
He said it is important that McDaniel knows that minority dealers are supporting him.
'The guy worked his butt off; he dedicated his life to this,' Perkins said. 'I'm not ashamed to support Lee McDaniel.'