US Senate confirms new consumer safety chief

From Reuters

A former South Carolina state education superintendent won U.S. Senate confirmation on Friday to head the U.S. Product Safety Commission, an agency criticized for failing to aggressively protect consumers during the Bush administration.

Inez Tenenbaum was nominated for the job in May by President Barack Obama, who said he intended to increase the number of agency commissioners to five from three and boost the CPSC budget to $107 million, a 71 percent jump from fiscal year 2007.

In the 1980s, the CPSC had nearly 1,000 employees, but staffing dwindled to less than half that in recent years.

Consumer groups and some lawmakers said the safety agency became toothless during the Bush administration, citing the CPSC chairman’s opposition to additional funding and the 2007 recall of millions of Chinese-made goods with excessive lead levels. Mattel Inc MAT.N recently agreed to pay a $2.3 million civil penalty to the agency for importing and selling toys with excessive lead levels.

The CPSC has jurisdiction over about 15,000 types of products ranging from kitchen appliances to toys to fireworks.

Tenenbaum, a Democrat and early supporter of Obama, unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate against Jim DeMint, a Republican. She served two terms as South Carolina’s State Superintendent of Education.

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Wyche, P.A.

Wyche is a full-service law firm that has practiced law and served the community for 100 years. In that time, Wyche has participated in landmark litigation, served as counsel on cutting-edge transactions, and provided community leadership that has helped shape and drive our region’s growth and success. With offices in Greenville, Spartanburg, and Columbia, Wyche is the South Carolina member of Lex Mundi, the world’s leading association of independent law firms.

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