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The contributors to the Consumer Law & Policy blog are lawyers and law professors who practice, teach, or write about consumer law and policy. The blog is hosted by Public Citizen Litigation Group, but the views expressed here are solely those of the individual contributors (and don't necessarily reflect the views of institutions with which they are affiliated). To view the blog's policies, please click here.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Comments

Ted

It is also plainly false that "'trial lawyers' would only benefit if there were more injuries." Injuries could drop by half under the new bill (though in fact they will go up) and trial lawyers will still collect more than they do under the status quo thanks to multiple provisions that have absolutely no benefit to consumers.

Perhaps the ethics rules should be different, though somehow the "appearance of impropriety" only applies to money from business than from trial lawyers who directly benefit. (How much money does Public Citizen get from the trial bar?) It is still wildly unfair to criticize Nord for following the rules and saving taxpayers money and then to criticize her for going over the top to have a review of the rules in response to criticism (you'd be at least as critical if she weren't asking for a review of the rules). And the fact remains that the timing was Public Citizen-motivated and is purely political to pressure the one person in Washington who is blowing the whistle on a terrible bill.

BW: "she has every right to express her views, which have been extensively aired on the Hill and in the media"

Yet somehow her actual views have not been addressed, and a false characterization of them is repeatedly made in the press.

Brian

I thought the Washington Post pieces were fair, but you are certainly entitled to your opinion. You are also entitled to call me dishonest (or worse), though I wish you wouldn't. I try my best to be as honest as possible.

Ms. Nord has every right to oppose the legislation pending on Capitol Hill. Ms. Nord's position is that the legislation would cause her agency to focus on smaller problems diverting resources from more serious problems. I disagree with her assessment for a number of reasons, but, again, she has every right to express her views, which have been extensively aired on the Hill and in the media.

I do not believe the pending legislation has anything to do with the plaintiffs' bar. Although members of plaintiffs' bar are typically involved in debates over so-called tort reform, to my knowledge they have not been prime movers on the CPSC legislation. Although your post suggests that some people are motivated in seeking new CPSC legislation in order to make consumers less safe (after all, "trial lawyers" would only benefit if there were more injuries), I am certain that is not the case. People may disagree about the best way to make consumer products safer, but I believe that all of the legislation's proponents are motivated by that purpose.

As for the point made in my original post: Regardless of whether Ms. Nord received approval from her internal ethics office or whether she is now seeking review from an outside ethics office, I think it is a poor idea for agency personnel (particularly an agency head) to travel at the expense of the entities the agency regulates, particularly when the travel is to vacation spots, even if the travel is for agency business (however defined). And I don't think you need an ethics review to decide whether that is a poor idea. Others are free to disagree with these views of course.

Ted

That's a really dishonest characterization, given that her ethics office approved the travel reimbursements before she took them. She's asking for an investigation to review those rules because of the pseudo-scandal created by the Public-Citizen-fed hit piece in the Washington Post -- a hit piece timed to punish Nord for daring to oppose a legislative giveaway to trial lawyers that would make consumers less safe.

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