TODAY: Fresh Bill Cole Lemons At The Capitol

Brittni McGuire Blog

TODAY: Fresh Bill Cole Lemons At The Capitol

Fresh lemons will remind West Virginians about Cole’s self-serving and sour agenda

CHARLESTON, WV— Today, The Bill Cole Lemon will be at the West Virginia state capitol passing out fresh lemons to visitors, politicians, and members of the media. The fresh Cole lemons serve as a tasty reminder of Senator Bill Cole’s sour agenda that hurts the working families of West Virginia.

Time and again, Cole has been caught using his public office for private gain— this year Bill Cole has been trying extra hard to sell lemon after lemon to the people of West Virginia. Remember Cole’s support for the Tesla bill? Or that one time Cole was cited by the ethics commission? And that bill he pushed to weaken the WV Lemon Law?

“All West Virginia workers should watch their wallets because Bill Cole is trying to rip you off,” said the Bill Cole Lemon. “Cole is putting the squeeze on working families, and line his own pockets in the process. Take it from me, no one sells a lemon better than Bill Cole– his agenda is full of them.”

 

BACKGROUND:

Cole Opposed Tesla Proposal to Allow Car Sales Directly to Consumers

On 8/11/13, the Charleston Gazette reported that West Virginia legislators opposed Tesla Motor’s proposal to allow car manufacturers to sell directly to consumers. The paper noted that West Virginia law mandated that consumers purchase cars only from dealerships.

Notably, Cole told the Gazette that “he strongly believes that car dealerships are the best way to protect consumer interests.” [Charleston Gazette, 8/11/13]

Cole “Championed” Bill Banning Direct Sales of Tesla Cars

On 4/04/15, the United Press noted that Cole “championed” a bill banning direct sales of Tesla vehicles.

Responding to Cole’s legislation, Tesla stated, “Despite a campaign based on pro-business and free market principles, the Senate president’s bill prevents competition and protects the car dealer monopoly […] West Virginians deserve the right to choose how and from whom they purchase their vehicles. We will return next year to fight for consumer choice and free market access.” [UPI, 4/05/15]

Cole Was the First Senate President Cited by Ethics Commission

On 11/30/14, the Charleston Gazette stated that Cole “would be the first Senate president to be cited by the Ethics Commission.” [Charleston Gazette, 11/30/14]

Cole Entered “Conciliation Agreement with Ethics Commission

On 11/24/14, the Charleston Gazette stated that Cole “entered into a conciliation agreement in October for using footage of himself in and around the state Capitol in a commercial for his car dealership, which the Ethics Commission concluded violated the prohibition against using public office for private gain.” [Charleston Gazette, 11/24/14]

On 10/03/14, the Charleston Gazette stated, “In the agreement, Cole stated his conduct inadvertently created the appearance of an Ethics violation, and agreed to cease and desist from such conduct in the future.” [Charleston Gazette, 10/03/14]

Cole Supported Bill that Exempted Used Cars from Implied Warranties

On 2/22/15, the Charleston Gazette stated that Cole supported a Senate bill that would exempt certain used cars from being sold with an implied warranty. The warranty required all used cars being sold from licensed dealers to be “in good working order and must operate properly in normal usage for a reasonable period of time.”

The Gazette stated that “Senate bill 107 would allow any car with more than 80,000 miles or older than seven years or that costs less than $2,500 to be sold ‘as is, with no implied warranty or consumer protection’.” [Charleston Gazette, 2/22/15]

Cole Auto Businesses Have Been Defendant in 10 Lemon Law or Auto Lawsuits Since 2007

According to the Charleston Gazette, the Cole family auto businesses have been involved in 10 lemon law or auto fraud lawsuits since 2007.

On 1/25/15, the Gazette stated, “Court records show that since 2007, Cole Automotive Group, Cole Chevrolet-Cadillac, and Cole Nissan have been defendants in 10 lemon law or auto fraud lawsuits.” [Charleston Gazette, 1/25/15]

Cole Sent Lemon Law Legislation to Favorable Committee

On 1/25/15, the Charleston Gazette was critical of Cole’s desire to repeal mandated used car implied warranty requirements.

The Gazette noted:

Legislation to allow auto dealers to sell low-priced vehicles “as is, without warranties, is a perennial at the Legislature. However, one would think that in the first session with a car dealer as Senate president, the kibosh would have been put on the bill this year for the sake of public image.

No such luck, with this year’s “as is bill being one of the first pieces of legislation introduced in the Senate this session. While Bill Cole, R-Mercer, is not a sponsor, his majority leader (Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson) is, and Cole opted to single-reference the bill to Judiciary Committee, which improves its odds of surviving the legislative process.

Court records show that since 2007, Cole Automotive Group, Cole Chevrolet-Cadillac, and Cole Nissan have been defendants in 10 lemon law or auto fraud lawsuits. (Lemon laws apply to the sale of defective vehicles, whereas auto fraud deals with misrepresentations or non-disclosures at the time of sale.)

While 10 suits in eight years is probably a decent record for dealerships of that size – and arguably, they could be symptomatic of the so-called “judicial hellhole status – the introduction of the bill this year looks bad under the circumstances. [Charleston Gazette, 1/25/15]

Cole: Repealing Implied Warranties on Used Cars not a “Disservice”

On 4/02/13, the Charleston Gazette quoted Cole insisting that repealing implied warranties for certain used cars was not a “disservice.”

Cole stated, “This is a service for those low-income people, not a disservice, not in any way, shape or form.”  [Charleston Gazette, 4/02/13]