In mid-February, freshman Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, whose top campaign donor is Koch Industries, proposed a successful amendment in an appropriations bill to defund a new public product safety database recently soft-launched by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Two years ago, when the bill was being debated, Koch lobbied on this specific issue, citing the "consumer reporting database provision" in legislation that passed that year.
In addition, the congressman's chief of staff, Mark Chenoweth, worked formerly both for Koch Industries and as chief legal counsel for Anne Northup, a Republican CPSC commissioner who has opposed the new database.
Koch Industries' employees and PAC contributed $79,500 to Pompeo for his race last November--nearly five times as much as his next largest donor, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
In 2008, the privately held, Kansas-based company reported spending $220,000 to hire the lobbying firm Siff & Lake to lobby on legislation reauthorizing the CPSC, including the new database, among other issues. Koch Industries used its in-house lobbyists to weigh in on the database.
The database, which has been controversial from the start, is designed to allow anybody to publicly report a safety complaint with toys or other products. Congress included the database as part of the 2008 Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act after a public uproar following the recall of millions of lead-contaminated popular toys imported from China. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration operates a similar searchable database where consumers can report safety problems with cars or infant car seats.
Northup, herself a former member of Congress, has opposed the database. Last November, she issued a statement saying that it "wastes taxpayer money, confuses and misleads consumers, raises prices, kills jobs, and damages the reputations of safe and responsible manufacturers."
The House approved Pompeo's amendment--(H.Amdt.159)--on Feb. 19.
Calls and emails to Koch Industries and Pompeo's office were not returned at the time of this posting.
Edited to add: Rep. Pompeo's communications director, Rachel Bauer Taylor, contacted us to say: "Congressman Pompeo was inspired to propose this amendment by his deep belief in economic freedom, his mission to create sound regulatory policy and a desire to make sure that consumers are not harmed by poor quality data being provided on a government sponsored website."