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CU support Sen. Boxer’s legislation to close ‘Revolving Door’ between NHTSA, automakers

April 27, 2010
The Honorable Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Boxer;
We are writing to strongly endorse the Motor Vehicle Safety Integrity Employment Act you are sponsoring that will close a legal loophole concerning post government employment in the auto industry by former government personnel of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Congressional hearings and media investigations into high speed crashes and deaths caused by unintended acceleration, the premature closure of agency defect investigations and the subsequent recall of ten million vehicles by Toyota Motor Corporation exposed a revolving door of former NHTSA regulators representing the automaker in safety matters before the agency.
Activities by former NHTSA employees who are subsequently hired by automakers have the potential to jeopardize the agency’s investigations, rulemakings, and oversight functions. These ethics issues need to be corrected and addressed in legislation. It is essential and expected that NHTSA conducts impartial analyses of all vehicle safety issues. It is critical to protect the integrity of the agency’s investigatory and enforcement role, as well as to ensure public safety when the agency sets safety standards. Your legislation is needed in order to restore the trust of the American public in our government regulators and ensure the safety of millions of vehicles that families depend on to travel to work, transport children to school and to bring us home safely.
Your legislation, when enacted, will prevent undue industry influence in the agency’s enforcement and regulatory decision-making and address an unacceptable defect in current ethics restrictions for former NHTSA employees. Thank you for your leadership.
Joan Claybrook
President Emeritus
Public Citizen
Jacqueline S. Gillan
Vice President
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
Clarence Ditlow
Executive Director
Center for Auto Safety
Jack Gillis
Director of Public Affairs
Consumer Federation of America
Janette Fennell
Founder & President
Andrew McGuire
Executive Director
Trauma Foundation
Rosemary Shahan
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety
Ellen Bloom, Director
Federal Policy and Washington Office
Consumers Union
Ami Gadhia
Policy Counsel
Consumers Union