Every day in nearly every city in America, shoppers head to a car dealership looking for sweet deals. In today's economy, with $4-a-gallon gas, the sweeter deals come in the form of a car's gas mileage, not its price tag. Gas mileage, price and more are immediately available to consumers thanks to Oklahoma's Mike Monroney.
A giant figure in state political history, Monroney represented Oklahoma first in the United States House of Representatives from 1939 to 1951 and then in the U.S. Senate from 1951 to 1969. It was 50 years ago this month that Monroney sponsored the Automobile Information Disclosure Act, which required auto dealerships to place a sticker on each car detailing pertinent information. That sticker became known as the Monroney sticker.
"Most of his reputation nationally was in aviation," said state Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who worked for Monroney in the Senate in 1964 and 1965. "But he was very consumer-oriented."
Monroney's push to better consumer auto information began in 1956 with congressional hearings on what Monroney called "automobile bootlegging." Witnesses at the hearing testified about the practice of selling new cars at below-market prices to unauthorized dealers, according to an Associated Press story. The dealers said they were under pressure to sell the cars to meet sales quotas.
The new sticker would prevent dealers from inflating the price of the car.
"It will re-establish confidence of the public in auto dealers," Monroney said in July of 1958 when President Eisenhower signed the bill into law.
The United States Department of Transportation added to the sticker in 2007, including new car crash safety information, known as "Stars on Cars," on the Monroney sticker. The gold stars range from one to five, with the higher number of stars indicating better car safety quality.
Monroney, with a total of 30 years of service in the House of Representatives and Senate, died in 1980. Part of his ashes are interred at the Washington Cathedral in Washington, D.C., with the remaining ashes scattered on the grounds of the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in southwest Oklahoma City.
"He was very courtly," Edmondson said. "He was soft-spoken and mild with people. He was not a back-slapping politician like Bob Kerr was. But they made quite a team."
Monroney and Kerr represented Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate between 1951 and 1963. " Scott Cooper