President George W. Bush’s recent decisions regarding the appointment of members of committees that are intended to remain impartial have been raising concerns in the scientific community because the decisions are being viewed as anything but impartial.
According to a Reuters article, Dana Loomis, chair of the Safety and Occupational Health Study Section of NIOSH, complained to Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy regarding one controversial appointment decision when Laura Purnett’s nomination to Loomis’s committee was rejected. According to Loomis, Purnett, a qualified nominee from the University of Massachusetts, was rejected because of her previous public support of a workplace ergonomics standard, the same standard that was overturned during the early days of the Bush administration. Two other nominations to the same committee have also been rejected.
Previously, similar controversies surrounding appointments by the Bush administration have surfaced regarding, among other issues, the president’s tendency to appoint children of other U.S. political leaders. Included in this trend was the recess appointment of Eugene Scalia, son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to the position of Acting Solicitor of The Department of Labor. Scalia, who has referred to ergonomics as “junk science,” stepped down from his position just prior to a probable reappointment earlier this month.