Bush Official Apologizes For Pushing Foreign Cars

Health and Human Services Department employee says e-mail newsletter strayed from its purpose of sharing information about energy conservation in promoting foreing-made 'green' cars.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Bush administration official apologized Thursday for a newsletter sent to thousands of government employees that encouraged them to consider fuel-efficient vehicles built by Japanese automakers.
''I deeply regret that our newsletter offended anyone, especially those Americans working in the automobile industry and the millions of people who make American automobile manufacturers successful,'' said Joe Ellis, the Health and Human Services Department's assistant secretary for administration and management.
Some domestic automakers and Michigan's 15 House members have complained about an Aug. 17 e-mail sent by the agency to its 67,000 employees asking them to consider a list of a dozen green cars — none built by Detroit-based companies.
Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said the apology was accepted. ''I think they got the message at HHS. They clearly admitted they were wrong,'' he said.
The list from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy did not include any vehicles from General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. or Chrysler LLC. All the cars were made by Japanese or South Korean automakers.
Ellis said in a statement that the ''newsletter highlighted vehicles not made by American manufacturers, thereby giving the impression that HHS was encouraging employees to buy foreign makes of cars.''
''Nothing could be further from our intent. Clearly, the newsletter strayed from its purpose of sharing information about energy conservation that is relevant to working for our department. In sending such a newsletter, we implied that we endorsed the purchase of cars not made by American companies,'' he said.
In the e-mail, an edition of the quarterly newsletter Energy News, the department wrote that ''fortunately, there are efficient options for a consumer to choose from when selecting a vehicle to drive. ... A couple of high profile (hybrid) releases for 2007 are the Toyota Camry Hybrid and the Nissan Altima Hybrid.''
It was produced by HHS' office of facilities management and policy, which falls under Ellis' jurisdiction.
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said department officials ''should focus upon their mission of ensuring food and drugs are safe, and providing health care to our children, rather than issuing inaccurate advice that appears to endorse foreign made products.''
More in Global