CPSC Regulators Take Trips On Industries' Dime

Consumer Product Safety Commission officials contend trips provide a way for the commissioners to meet with manufacturers.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two chief consumer product safety regulators for the Bush administration accepted dozens of trips paid for by toy makers, children's furniture manufacturers and other industries they oversee, it was reported Friday.
Acting Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairwoman Nancy Nord and her predecessor, Hal Stratton, took nearly 30 trips since 2002 that were partially or fully paid for by trade associations, manufacturers or corporate lawyers, at a cost of nearly $60,000, according to The Washington Post. The newspaper obtained internal CPSC records of the travel.
The report comes as Nord fends off calls for her resignation from some congressional Democrats, who are angry that the safety chief opposes their efforts to strengthen her agency in light of this year's recalls of millions of unsafe toys.
Among Nord's industry-paid travel was a July 2005 trip to San Francisco to talk to the Toy Industry Association and a trip to New York last year for that group's presentation at the American International Toy Fair.
The previous commissioner, Stratton, took more than 25 of the trips in question, the Post said, including an 11-day, $11,000 visit to China and Hong Kong paid for by the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory, an industry group.
CPSC officials contend the trips provide a way for the commissioners to meet with manufacturers, hear their concerns and suggest ways to make products safer. Commission spokeswoman Julie Vallese said the agency's legal counsel and ethics officers approved the trips.
Government travel regulations prohibit industry-paid trips that would lead people to question an agency's integrity, and Stratton's predecessor as commissioner, Ann Brown, who served under President Clinton, did not take trips paid for by industries the CPSC regulated.
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