What did Ron Bloom say and when did he say it?
That's the question at the heart of a letter the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent Wednesday to Bloom, the White House's Assistant to the President for Manufacturing Policy, asking if he wants to "clarify" comments he made under oath on Capitol Hill on June 22nd.
The lawmakers want to learn whether Bloom, who is viewed as an ally of the unions, ever said that he directed White House policy on automakers on behalf of unions.
Saying the committee "considers the veracity of witness testimony essential to conducting serious oversight of the federal government and how taxpayers’ dollars are spent," a trio of lawmakers asked Bloom if he wanted "an opportunity to clarify a series of statements that you made under oath." Their letter was obtained by CNBC.
At issue is an exchange between Bloom and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) during testimony before the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending that the lawmakers say went like this:
Rep. Burton: Well did you say this at a dinner? There was a dinner and it was reported by David Shepardson, Washington correspondent for the Detroit News. At a farewell dinner of the Auto Task Force held in the restaurant Rosa Mexicano in late July 2009 that you allegedly said “I did this all for the unions.”
Mr. Bloom: No I did not say that.
Rep. Burton: You didn’t say that?
Mr. Bloom: No sir.
Rep. Burton: So, you were misquoted?
Mr. Bloom: That’s correct.
Rep. Burton: Well I’m going to call that guy up and ask him if you said that. You know that you are under oath here?
Mr. Bloom: I’m fully aware.
Rep. Burton: You made no comment like that at all?
Mr. Bloom: No sir.
The Committee, however, says that two independent sources document Bloom saying the words in question, pointing to an article in the Detroit News and a line in a book written by Bloom's former boss on the Auto Task Force at the White House, Steven Rattner.
"It appears that either a respected reporter and your former boss in the Obama administration have both given inaccurate accounts of your comments to the public, or your testimony was not completely truthful," the committee wrote. "Therefore, if you would like to amend or clarify your testimony for the record, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The letter was signed by Burton, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the committee, and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).