COLUMBIA, S.C. – The chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission said she will leave the agency and join a South Carolina law firm in December, after more than four years leading the panel.
Tenenbaum told The Associated Press on Thursday that she will leave the Washington position Dec. 1 for a job with the firm Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough.
Tenenbaum said she decided earlier this year that she didn’t want another term leading the agency, charged with protecting the public from potential injuries or deaths from use of consumer products. The former South Carolina education superintendent said she’s ready to return home.
“I think I have done my best, and I’m ready for a new challenge,” Tenenbaum said in a telephone interview.
She said she will work in the law firm’s offices in both Columbia and Washington on issues involving product safety and education. She added that she will advise clients on regulator matters, recalls and litigation.
“I want to work with manufacturers on how to avoid mistakes that injure people,” Tenenbaum said.
She also said she looked forward to working with former U.S. Education Secretary Dick Riley, a member of the firm and former South Carolina governor, on education issues.
“I will be working with the state Department of Education and school districts throughout the country, and it’s very exciting to be involved in education policy again,” Tenenbaum said.
Tenenbaum was nominated by President Obama and sworn into office in June 2009 as chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. She was charged with implementing the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act adopted by Congress the previous year.
“We passed 50 new rules that really protect children and families in America,” she said, pointing to rules requiring testing of all children’s products, reducing the amount of lead in those products and developing “the strongest crib standards in the world.”
The agency still faces challenges, she said, and she said she worried during her tenure that the “partisan politics of Congress came over to the commission.”
“I’m disappointed that I couldn’t get everything done in four and a half years,” she said. She said areas that still need attention include new rules for portable generators that reduce the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, as well as regulation of all-terrain vehicles.