Turning the page
AIADA leaders have been reluctant to discuss the association's problems publicly. But conflicts within the organization and between AIADA and other industry groups boiled over during the past 10 months.
The flash point was AIADA's decision to form an in-house political action committee to collect dealer cash for federal political campaigns. Former AIADA President Marianne McInerney, a strong supporter of the PAC, resigned abruptly in early March. AIADA leaders moved quickly to abolish the committee. Lusk declined to discuss McInerney's tenure.
Lusk says support for free trade will remain the backbone of AIADA's mission. But the association must work with industry groups on other issues that concern dealers, he adds.
Lusk cites the need for AIADA to cooperate with the National Automobile Dealers Association, state dealer associations, automakers and the Automotive Free International Trade Political Action Committee, a longtime independent PAC for import-brand dealers.
"I didn't set the current legislative agenda," Lusk says, "but I will have a role setting the agenda moving forward."
Lusk is the father of three sons, all under age 7. His wife, Michelle, also is in government relations, working part time for the Cement Kiln Recycling Coalition.
The chairman's view
AIADA Chairman Don Beyer, a multifranchise dealer in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, acknowledges the need for revival at AIADA.
"Cody is going to be the right guy to lead that effort," Beyer says.
"Clearly, that was part of our thinking. He seems to enjoy a lot of personal credibility in the political spheres and left over from his time in the automotive trade association spheres."
Lusk was on AIADA's staff in the 1990s, during the tenure of former association President Walter Huizenga. Lusk was director of legislative affairs from 1995 to 2001. He joined the U.S. Commerce Department in 2001 and Rep. Johnson's staff in 2002.
AIADA replaced Huizenga with McInerney in 2003.
"There's not been one person who's tried to dissuade me from taking this job," Lusk says. "I want to reach out to friends I've known over the years and make sure that they know we're starting with a clean slate."
You may e-mail Harry Stoffer at [email protected]