WASHINGTON -- Marianne McInerney quit as president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association to pursue "new challenges and opportunities," AIADA Chairman Don Hicks said Tuesday.
Hicks made that statement in a message to members of the import-brand dealers' group. In a separate press release, he credited McInerney with creating "a strong organizational and financial foundation for continued growth." Hicks said McInerney strengthened AIADA's voice in Washington.
Those assessments contrasted with observations by some AIADA members and other industry leaders. They viewed McInerney as a focal point of controversies that have engulfed the association.
Hicks, who owns Shortline Automotive Inc., of Aurora, Colo., could not be reached for further comment. In the prepared statements, he said AIADA would begin a search for McInerney's successor soon.
On Monday,March 6, former AIADA Chairman Buzz Rodland acknowledged that McInerney's resignation was "sudden." He declined to elaborate.
A reporter who called AIADA's offices on Tuesday and asked for the person in charge was transferred to Kelly Martin, director of member services. Martin declined comment.
Earlier, sources said AIADA employees were surprised on Monday to find McInerney's office cleaned out. They said she left after a meeting with Hicks and Rodland late last week.
AIADA hired McInerney, 42, three years ago to replace longtime President Walter Huizenga. She had experience in Republican political campaigns, in some government agencies and with other associations, none of them automotive.
Her advocates on the AIADA board consistently hailed her for energetically taking the organization in new directions.
But long-rumored tensions surfaced in the past six months, largely over McInerney's pressure on the board to create an in-house political action committee.
A sharply divided AIADA board officially created the committee at the beginning of this year. Board members acted over the objections of other dealer groups, some import-brand manufacturers and some of AIADA's own leaders.
Disgruntled AIADA members said the PAC controversy reflected other, deeper troubles in the organization.
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