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An Incredible Conflict of Interest

Michael E. Baroody has been a senior lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers. He has been named by President Bush to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The NAM is delighted — as might be expected. What was not expected was a gift of $150,000 from the NAM to Baroody.

Such a gift is rare and suspect. Baroody informed the Commission’s General Counsel that the severance payment was an “extra-ordinary payment,” which indeed it was. Under existing rules, Baroody could not be employed by the NAM for two years. But, he notes, that while he could not do so, he could and would take cases of individual companies until such time when he could serve the NAM. He could also represent sub-groups of the NAM.

In short, he will do his work with members of the NAM although not with the NAM per se. He will violate the spirit of the law although abiding by the letter of the law.

The choice of Baroody to see to it that consumers get good representation was, of course, not a matter of his own doing. It was a decision made by the president of the U.S.

But cheer up. A national election is on the way.

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