Members of a group of more than 50 consumer leaders, noting their continuing disagreements with the administration, yesterday endorsed Carter's reelection bid, while sharply criticizing the records of Republican nominee Ronald Reagan and independent candidate John Anderson.
In a statement, the group, whose members made clear they were not acting on behalf of their organizations, said they were forming a "Consumers for Carter-Mondale" committee.
"After a comparative analysis, there is no question in our minds that President Carter's record, the platform of the Democratic Party, his programs and appointments, point to the fact that he is the best candidate for consumers of the country," said Ellen Haas of the Community Nutrition Institute.
In particular, the group cited Carter's support for the Federal Trade Commission and for environmental and health and safety legislation and the administration's executive order ordering all executive branch agencies to appoint consumer representatives.
At the same time, the group suggested that neither Anderson nor Reagan was interested in its concerns. Haas said the group had not met with Carter's competitors or their staffs.
James Boyle, of the Texas Consumer Association and the next legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), charged that Anderson has "among the most anticonsumer voting records in Congress." Boyle also said that Reagan had appointed representatives of regulated industries to California agencies during his tenure as governor.
Anderson, the group noted, voted for issues supported by CFA only 33 percent of the time during the 93rd Congress, and that figure stood at 34 percent and 29 percent during the next two sessions. Further, Anderson who voted for the group's pet project, the creation of a consumer protection agency, in 1974 and 1975, voted against the agency in 1978.
The group cited Reagan's opposition to the agency, his lack of support for a consumer protection program in California, his energy positions and his opposition to funding consumer participation in government proceedings as further evidence of the Republican's business leanings.
But Haas noted that members of the group had vehemently disagreed with Carter's phased decontrol of oil and gas prices and that Carter failed to win passage of the consumer agency bill in 1978. "The president didn't vote" in Congress, she said.
During the meeting, Carter told the group that the administration had sought to "preserve regulation of the elements of society which do damage to the environmental quality and the health and safety of Americans."
The announcement came as Carter administration consumer officials were fighting off congressional efforts to strip the primary administration liaison unit for consumer groups, the Office of Consumer Affairs, of significant powers.