May 23, 2007
Baroody’s Withdrawal of Nomination for Top Product Safety Post Is a Win for Consumers
Statement of Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook
Public Citizen welcomes Michael Baroody’s decision to withdraw from consideration as the chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). His nomination to this critical post was astoundingly inappropriate and would have put American families at further risk because of his interest in weakening safeguards against potentially dangerous products. More than 27,000 deaths and 33 million injuries each year are associated with consumer products under the CPSC’s jurisdiction.
Baroody walked away from his Senate hearing on Thursday, which would have been his chance to publicly explain how a career lobbyist for the nation’s most powerful manufacturers association was qualified to chair the agency responsible for protecting consumers from unsafe products and industry negligence. 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.
While Baroody was at NAM, the organization consistently supported weakening product safety rules for the financial gain of its members, as a recent Public Citizen analysis shows. In an unusual move, Baroody was to receive a $150,000 severance package from NAM to soften the financial blow of his return to the public sector, and thus could not have participated in decisions involving NAM or, arguably, its member companies. A still-secret addendum to this package could have included even more money. This was another tangible example of conflicts of interest that would have severely compromised his ability to regulate the companies he used to represent.
The CPSC has the safety of at least 15,000 consumer products under its jurisdiction, including many products that are used by children, such as strollers, cribs, high chairs and toys. Nothing in Baroody’s record suggested that he was qualified for this post or interested in the welfare of American families.
We praise those senators who took the Bush administration to task for recommending a nominee whose real mission would have been gutting the regulations he was charged with upholding. The American public deserves a CPSC chair who will represent their interests, not those of business cronies.