Bush Appoints Corporate Hack to Regulatory Position

President Bush is once again employing his beloved recess-appointment technique to sneak a loyalist into a position of significant power. This time around, Bush has tagged a devout pro-business, anti-regulation, free-market fanatic named Susan Dudley to become the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). Of course, as a recess appointment, Dudley will not be subject to Senate questioning, approval, or confirmation.

OIRA, which is part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), is instrumental in developing regulatory standards and authorizing regulatory policy from the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, among other groups.

Dudley’s appointment has been sharply criticized by a wide range of concerned citizens who are alarmed by her staunchly pro-industry record. In the past, she has been an outspoken opponent of tougher emissions and smog standards, and is generally viewed as an avid defender of corporate interests. She has even spoken out against protective auto air bags, calling them too costly.

“Bypassing the Senate is a sign that the president does not have faith that Dudley could get through the process on her own merits,” said Robert Shull of government watchdog Public Citizen. “Instead of facing up to her record on the issues, the president has decided to evade public accountability and just hand her this incredibly powerful office.”

“This is devastating news for the public,” added Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook. “Dudley has a record of unrelenting hostility to regulatory protections for the public health, safety, consumers, the environment, privacy rights–everything that we expect our government to provide.”

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has called her a “radical reactionary who believes in allowing arsenic in drinking water and that smog is actually beneficial because it can protect people from sunburn.”

According to the NRDC’s Wesley Warren, “The Bush administration’s appointment of Susan Dudley … presents another threat to the federal government’s ability to safeguard Americans and hold industry responsible for its actions. Appointing her during recess is a blatant disregard for a fair and open process, which the American people deserve. Dudley’s own writings show she has a history as an enemy of regulation and her belief that cost savings for industry outweighs protecting the public.”

In 2006, under a Republican-controlled Congress, Dudley’s nomination was still so controversial that discussion of her relative merits never even made it out of the committee stage.

“A recess appointment of the anti-regulatory extremist Susan Dudley as the new regulatory czar is more than just a slap in the face of the Senate,” added Public Citizen’s Shull. “It is a signal that the Bush administration is moving from siege to all-out war on the nation’s public protections.”

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