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Fleet Sales: Conflict of Interest? | DrivingSales News

General Sales Manager Accused Of Unfairly Impacting Fleet Bids For Power Company

July 10, 2015 0 Comments

Jim Clifton is the general sales manager of Crabtree Buick Pontiac GMC in Bristol, Virginia. He’s also the newly appointed chairman of Bristol Virginia Utilities. Since 2007, he’s been a board member of the BVU board. There are concerns he used his position with the power company and dealership to influence sales.

An investigation by Nate Moribito out at CBS News 11 has revealed Clifton was personally involved in over $100,000 worth of auto sales between BVU and Crabtree Buick Pontiac GMC. To add to the intrigue, Clifton was directly involved in $100,000 of sales with BVU and since 2010 BVU has bought $476,000 worth of vehicles from Crabtree Buick Pontiac GMC. The concern is that the influence of Clifton as the GSM and member of the power company board had an impact on the bidding process.

In an interview, Clifton refuted any allegations there was a conflict of interest in the situation. He stated that when the BVU was seeking vehicles for their fleet, they would take sealed bids from local dealers. He told News 11 sometimes his store was the lowest bid and sometimes, it was not. The investigation by the local news indicated that when Clifton was part of the bidding process, his store won about 50 percent of the time. The report further found Clifton was sometimes as involved as to be the person signing the bid sheet to submit to BVU.

Speaking about the optics of the situation, Clifton told News 11, “People can perceive what they want and I just know I have honesty and integrity and if they ask me for a bid, then I’m going to supply a bid. I have distanced myself to maybe minimize that public perception.”

A GSM who has close ties to a utility company is involved in the bidding process. Is it a conflict of interest or just a matter of fair and sealed bidding for fleet sales?

About the Author:

The DrivingSales News team is dedicated to breaking the relevant and the tough stories affecting car dealers. Have questions for DrivingSales News? Reach the team at news@drivingsales.com.

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