NAM VP To Head Consumer Product Safety Commission

Critics wonder about Baroody’s impartiality after he was selected by Bush to serve as chairman of the CPSC.

WASHINGTON (AP) – A manufacturing trade association executive is President Bush’s pick to be chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Democrats and consumer advocates voiced concern that the nominee would be too beholden to business interests.

Bush nominated Michael Baroody, executive vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), to head the commission charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from more than 15,000 types of consumer products.

NAM President John Engler said Baroody will bring “impartial judgment” to the agency and will be an advocate for sound policy to enhance consumer safety. “No one who knows Mike Baroody has ever questioned his commitment to fair play and, most importantly, good government,” Engler said.

Janel Mayo Duncan, senior counsel for Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, said on Thursday that Baroody’s ties to NAM prompted red flags at her organization. “We’re going to be asking Congress to carefully scrutinize his views,” she said.

The three-member commission has been working without a chairman since Hal Stratton left in July. Under federal law, the CPSC can operate with two commissioners for only six months.

“Here was a golden opportunity to put a true champion of consumers onto a very important commission, and instead President Bush selected someone who represents the special interests,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who sits on the Commerce Committee that will consider the nomination. “This administration seems incapable of doing anything in the public interest. I intend to give this nomination thorough scrutiny.”

Before his present job, Baroody was senior vice president for policy, communications and public affairs for the manufacturing association. Earlier in his career, he was assistant secretary for policy at the Labor Department and deputy assistant to the president for public affairs. Baroody received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.

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