Mary Bennett Peterson, author and lobbyist

December 28, 2011

Mary Bennett Peterson, 88, an author who was also a lobbyist for General Motors, died Nov. 23 at her home in Washington.

She had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to her daughter, Laura Bennett Peterson.

From 1973 until the early 1990s, Mrs. Peterson was a lobbyist and then a consultant for General Motors. She was author of the 1971 book “The Regulated Consumer,” which argued that rules promulgated by government regulatory agencies often harmed rather than protected consumers. She criticized several federal agencies and maintained that “deregulation and reprivatization . . . are simply a recognition of the efficacy of the market [and] the built-in shortcomings of government intervention.”

With General Motors, Mrs. Peterson was involved with auto imports, regulation of the industry, wage and price controls and a joint venture between GM and Toyota to produce cars in the United States.

Mary Jean Bennett was born in Cleveland. She graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio in 1949 and later studied economics at New York University.

Before coming to Washington in 1973, Mrs. Peterson was a program officer for the William H. Donner Foundation in New York City and a stockbroker in Princeton, N.J.

Under her maiden name, she contributed to the Wall Street Journal’s “Reading for Business” book review column from 1964 to 1973.

A son, Mark Bennett Peterson, died in 2006.

Survivors include her husband of 62 years, William H. Peterson, and her daughter, Laura Bennett Peterson, both of Washington.

— Bart Barnes