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Ex-PR chief Vines accuses Ford of bugging cars, phones

Fri, 24 Oct 2014

Jason Vines, former head of communications at Ford among other automakers, is accusing the Blue Oval of bugging his company phone and his car during the Firestone tire recall for the Explorer in 2001. The allegations have come to light in Vines' upcoming book What Did Jesus Drive? Crisis PR in Cars, Computers and Christianity.

According to The Detroit News, which has an advance copy of the book, Vines (pictured above) claims that after leaving the company, someone with security within Ford advised him that he had been bugged around the time of the recall. The allegations don't stop there, though. Vines further contends that he might not have been the only one to get this treatment, noting that then-general counsel John Rintamaki also believed he was being listened to.

According to The Detroit News, even if it had been a company phone, recording Vines without his knowledge still would have been a felony under Michigan law.

Autoblog reached out to Ford for comment on the allegations, and spokesperson Susan Krusel responded, saying "We are not aware of anything of this nature happening" – the same exact statement given to The Detroit News.

To add a further to the story, Vines also accuses Bill Ford Jr. of leaking some advance information to The New York Times during the recall. The company reportedly investigated the journalist working on the piece and traced the info back to the Ford heir.

Krusel also sent the following statement to Autoblog:

"The accounts detailed in the book about the Firestone tire crises happened more than a decade ago under a very different leadership team at Ford. As with any retelling of history, memories and accuracy differ from person to person, and this account is no different. During the events, our sole focus was on doing what was right for the safety of our customers. We are grateful for Jason's tireless leadership during the time he served at Ford. We will let the book speak for itself, as we remain focused on creating the next chapter in Ford's history."

Following his time at Ford, Vines became Vice President of Communications at Chrysler Group from 2003 to late 2007. He later took a position leading communications for the Christian publishing division of HarperCollins.

By Chris Bruce

See also: Ford readying dozen+ Mustang models for SEMA, NHTSA releases updated Takata airbag recalled cars list, but it still has errors, US Ford Focus RS to be imported from Europe.