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General Motors is running ads on all the major networks this week claiming it has repaid its bailout from the taxpayers "in full." But the claim isn't standing up to scrutiny from lawmakers and government watchdogs who have found that the automaker was able to repay the bailout money only by dipping into a separate pot of bailout funds.
The TV spot may land GM in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission over its truth-in-advertising laws, which prohibit ads that are "likely to mislead consumers."
"We have repaid our government loans in full — with interest — five years ahead of the original schedule," says Ed Whitacre, chairman and CEO of General Motors Company, asking Americans to give the bankrupt company another look.
The FTC said it could not provide any comment on the ad or whether it had received any complaints or inquiries about GM's claims from the public or from government officials.
The FTC has a division of advertising practices that investigates possible false claims, but specific investigations are not made public. If the FTC determines that truth-in-advertising laws have been violated, the agency files
complaints against the organizations in violation.