Leaders of the US agency that regulates product safety have accepted free trips from reps of the industries they oversee, a move critics call a flagrant breach of ethics, the Washington Post reports. Consumer Product Safety Commission chief Nancy Nord and predecessor Hal Stratton have taken 30 trips since 2002, with trade associations, manufacturers, and lobbying groups picking up the $60,000 tab.
The bill includes Stratton's $11,000 trip to China, covered by a fireworks manufacturer. Lawyers with clients involved in product liability suits paid for many of the trips. "This is a blatant violation of the ethics code," one critic said. Regulations bar freebies if they would cause a "reasonable person to question the integrity" of the agency. The agency defends them as a way to keep industries informed.