By FREDERIC J. FROMMER Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON — Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Friday she will seek legislation banning Consumer Product Safety Commission employees from taking trips paid for by the industries they regulate, in response to a report identifying such practices at the agency.
The Washington Post reported that the acting chairwoman of the commission, Nancy Nord, and her predecessor had taken dozens of trips paid for by industries they regulate, such as the toy industry.
"It flies in the face of basic common sense to accept paid travel from those you are charged with regulating," said Klobuchar, D-Minn. "This represents an astonishing lack of judgment on the part of Chairwoman Nord."
The commission referred to a statement made by Nord, who said that all travel by agency employees goes through a "painstaking review" by the Office of the General Counsel before it is approved.
"Nevertheless, because questions have been raised about the adequacy of these long standing procedures, I am asking the Office of Government Ethics to conduct a complete review of the agency's travel acceptance procedures," she said.
Klobuchar said she would offer an amendment to legislation approved by the Senate Commerce Committee this week, which would increase the number of workers at the agency to at least 500 by 2013, modernize its testing facilities and increase the number of safety inspectors at U.S. ports. That legislation includes provisions by Klobuchar that would treat lead in any children's product as a banned hazardous substance, and make it illegal to sell a recalled toy.
Millions of toys made in China have been recalled because of excessive levels of lead paint, tiny magnets that could be swallowed or other potentially serious problems.
Other Democrats made similar calls for legislation on Friday. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey said he'd introduce a bill to ban officials at federal agencies from taking trips paid for by industries they oversee. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said he planned to offer an amendment too, saying, "Regulators should not and must not accept travel from those they regulate -- period."