This article on potential nominees for head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission says researchers Gail Charnley and Jacqueline Patterson wrote a letter to a technical journal about a study that they had co-authored without disclosing that the study had been funded partly by pesticide makers. However, the authors disclosed their funding when the original article was published in 2003 in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. Then in 2004, Charnley and Patterson wrote a separate letter to the editor of a different journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, responding to critics of the original article. In their first draft of the 2004 letter to the editor, the researchers said that they had no financial conflict of interest because they were no longer receiving any funding from the pesticide industry. The editor of the journal suggested that because the letter related to their previous article, which had been partially funded by industry, they should disclose the previous funding again. The authors agreed, and the 2004 letter to the editor ran with the following disclosure above their signatures: "The article by Charnley and Patterson (2003) was partially supported by the pesticide industry, which wanted an independent review of its studies. Because they did not receive payment for writing this letter, the authors declare they have no competing financial interests."
White House Vetting Product-Safety Candidates
Saturday, January 26, 2008
The White House is considering a scientist who has frequently testified and written on behalf of the energy, pesticide and tobacco industries to chair the nation's chief product-safety regulator.
A White House spokesman declined to comment on plans to replace acting Consumer Product Safety Commission chairman Nancy A. Nord. Over the past two months, Bush administration officials have vetted several prospective candidates to lead the beleaguered agency, according to sources who were consulted about the candidates. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the White House has not made an announcement.
The front-runner, the sources said, is Gail Charnley, who has a doctorate in toxicology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and runs her own consulting firm, HealthRisk Strategies. She has served on several high-level government advisory panels, including National Academy of Sciences committees. She was well regarded as director of an NAS toxicology program in the mid-1990s.
"It would be great to have a scientist running the CPSC. I've always found Gail to be very open-minded and fair-minded and astute about public health risks," said Jonathan Wiener, who teaches law and environmental policy at Duke University.
Charnley is less popular with environmental advocates, who criticized her work on behalf of industry. In 2006, for example, she wrote an op-ed article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch opposing tougher restrictions on power-plant emissions in neighboring Illinois on behalf of Americans for Balanced Energy Choices, a nonprofit group funded by utilities, railroads and mining companies. In 2004, she and a colleague wrote a letter to the technical journal Environmental Health Perspectives about a study on human testing of pesticides that they had co-authored without disclosing that it had been funded partly by pesticide makers. The journal's editor ran a disclosure after Charnley and her colleague disputed having a conflict of interest.
Charnley was also a consultant for the tobacco industry from the early 1990s through 2001, according to internal tobacco industry documents collected as a part of the 1998 master settlement between the industry and 46 state attorneys general.
"She's not thought of as a consumer advocate per se but as someone hired by industry to represent their point of view," said Lynn Goldman, a former assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency under President Bill Clinton, who has testified at hearings with Charnley.
Charnley did not return e-mails or phone messages left at her office.
Other contenders for the nomination include Jacqueline Glassman, a former deputy administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and John Kupsch, a former technical director of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, the product-testing arm of the magazine.
Glassman, now a partner at the law firm of Hogan & Hartson, had joined the traffic safety administration after serving as an in-house attorney for Chrysler. At the agency, she oversaw work on side-impact regulations that auto-safety advocates lauded for improving head protection. Reached at her office Wednesday, Glassman said she had not been contacted about the CPSC job.
Kupsch recently left Good Housekeeping to be a vice president of product safety for Amscan, an Elmsford, N.Y., designer, manufacturer and distributor of party goods and owner of the Party City retail chain. When asked whether he had been approached as a possible nominee for CPSC chairman, Kupsch said, "I can't comment on matters confidential to the White House."
Recruiting candidates for CPSC chairman has been difficult for the administration. A nominee for chairman has to survive a Senate confirmation, and if approved, face the prospect of having to step down soon after if Democrats win the White House in November.