April 2, 2007

Congress Should Reject the Nomination of Michael Baroody to Lead the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

Statement of Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook

Public Citizen today announces its strong opposition to the nomination of Michael Baroody to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This is just the latest example of the Bush administration’s systematic attempts to gut federal agencies by replacing regulators with corporate cronies. Bush’s decision to tap Baroody is spectacularly and arrogantly inappropriate.  

Michael Baroody is currently the executive vice president for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and has spent most of his professional life as a lobbyist and political operative on behalf of corporate interests. He would be an extremely ill-suited choice to lead an agency charged with protecting Americans from dangerous products – many of them made by the manufacturers he is accustomed to representing.

The chair of the CPSC makes decisions that deeply affect consumer and child safety. Yet while he was at NAM, Baroody spearheaded campaigns designed to cripple the regulatory agencies and deny consumers access to the courts. He has made a career out of opposing any measure to hold negligent corporations accountable for preventable harm.

In 2000, Baroody successfully lobbied Congress to derail the ergonomics rule, put into place by the Clinton administration to prevent 300,000 workplace accidents and injuries. In 2001, backing polluters, he lit into the Supreme Court for upholding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) powers to limit smog and soot. The EPA was trying to provide relief to the growing number of asthma sufferers, now about 20 million, saving them from breathing polluted air.

When will President Bush learn that industry flacks are not an acceptable substitute for competent public health and safety officials? Bush’s choice is yet another blow designed to trash accountability and destroy the regulatory safety net that protects Americans.

Baroody is also clearly a partisan. His career before joining NAM included stints as a Republican National Committee speechwriter and as President Reagan’s head of public affairs. In 2004, he was the chief spokesman for his organization’s drive, the Prosperity Project, which under the guise of voter education, pushed employees of NAM members to vote for Republicans. Bush’s nomination inappropriately treats the CPSC as a reward for this partisanship and would give corporate insiders a chance to do lasting harm to the agency.

Given his obvious lack of qualifications for this position, Baroody’s nomination is nothing but a slap in the face of the Senate commerce committee, which must decide his appointment. It is also one more disappointment dished up by Bush for the American people. The Senate should reject Baroody's nomination.

To read an analysis of Baroody’s background, click here.

###