Monday, October 25, 2004

Nose-in-a-book Sloth

Hot peppers at the farmer's market. Midterm today. Paper due tomorrow. Back to blogging Wednesday. Until then, here is yet another Daily Reason to Dispatch Bush. DAY 142: Over 100 high-level officials appointed by the Bush administration now oversee industries they previously represented as lobbyists, lawyers, or company advocates. Many of those appointees have pushed for more favorable policies for their respective industries from within the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, and other agencies. Six have been the subject of ethics investigations or have resigned due to conflicts of interest. The Bush-appointed chief counsel for the FDA, Daniel E. Troy, is a former lobbyist for pharmaceutical firms. Last December, he met with several hundred pharmaceutical attorneys and offered them the government's help in dismissing lawsuits against their companies. By then, Troy had already officially intervened on behalf of Pfizer in several cases. A 2002 General Accounting Office study of the FDA's new system for notifying companies of rule violations, implemented by Troy, concluded that warning notices "have taken so long that misleading advertisements may have completed their broadcast life cycle before FDA issued the letters." In 2001, Ann-Marie Lynch, who had lobbied against price controls on prescription drugs on behalf of a trade group, was made the deputy assistant secretary in the office of policy within the Department of Health and Human Services; she has since discouraged the administration from adopting price caps. A report issued by Lynch helped persuade Congress to ban Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices. She has also blocked the release of about a dozen research reports that challenged the claims of drug companies. Charles Lambert, a former meat-industry lobbyist, became a deputy undersecretary in the United States Department of Agriculture in December 2002. As a USDA official, he has argued that mad cow disease is not a threat to the U.S. and that meat-labeling programs are unnecessary. Six months after he told Congress that the disease would not reach America, it was discovered in a cow brought here from Canada. More than a dozen other USDA officials also have connections to the meat industry. (!!!!!! What the fuck!! -Sloth) Jeffrey Holmstead worked as a lawyer at Latham & Watkins representing a chemical company and a trade group for utility companies until October 2001, when he was appointed to the EPA. The agency's proposed changes to air-pollution rules, released January 30, included at least a dozen paragraphs taken from a proposal submitted to the Bush administration by Latham & Watkins in 2003. Those rule changes will allow many plants to continue to avoid emissions reductions. In June 2001, Bush chose J. Steven Griles, an energy-industry lobbyist, to be the Interior Department's second-highest official. An investigation by the department's inspector general concluded that Griles's appointment had created an "ethical quagmire." A former Griles client has been awarded $2 million in no-bid contracts, and he has pressed the EPA to allow gas drilling by several companies he once represented. (Source Anne C. Mulkern, "When Advocates Become Regulators," Denver Post, May 23, 2004. See article at