CPSC Commissioner Robert Adler Served Petition Signatures to Cease Magnet Prohibition

On Tuesday February 17th, five thousand petition signatures were hand-delivered to Robert (Bob) S. Adler, the acting Chairman at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The stack of signatures were served in person by Shihan Qu, the founder of Zen Magnets, at the Jatvis Center in New York during the New York Toy Fair.

Robert Adler (D) was appointed to the agency by President Barack Obama in August 2009.

In terms of total signatures, the “Cease Magnet Prohibition” petition represents the largest public petition the CPSC has ever faced. It urges the CPSC to drop its repeated efforts to outlaw magnet sales. This was the first time any CPSC spokesperson had acknowledged the petition.

CPSC Commissioner Adler initially attempted to refuse receipt of the signatures, noting that the documents should be sent to the CPSC headquarters to be entered on record. Adler accepted the signatures once made aware that the petition was already on record, and that the letter was addressed specifically to him.

“This is one of the current problems with the agency. The commissioners are shielded from public opinion because their staff digests incoming feedback before it reaches them. This tends to continue the confirmation bias echo-chamber,” said Shihan Qu at a Liberty on the Rocks event in Lafayette, Colorado, just days after the petition had been delivered.

This isn’t the first time Adler has had his finger off the pulse of industry and public opinion. In a recent CPSC proposal to make voluntary recall agreements legally binding, Robert Adler described the change as a “minor tweak” that most companies would ” see and yawn and move on with.” But the consensus of statements received during the rulemaking comment period was that the changes risk delaying recalls and alienating companies.

The CPSC is currently in litigation with three different companies in pursuit of stop-sales and recalls of magnets. Zen Magnets is the first company to receive an Administrative Complaint from the CPSC, prior to record of injury. Craig Zucker, the former CEO of Maxfield & Oberton, which manufactured Buckyballs, is being targeted in his individual capacity despite having never broken a law.

Buckyballs are no longer available, and most other similar companies in the U.S. have acquiesced to CPSC demands. However, in the midst of litigation, Zen Magnets continues to accept dollars and bitcoin in exchange for sets of high-powered magnet spheres at http://ZenMagnets.com. In the mean time, the petition that’s hosted at Change.org continues to receive publicity through https://savemagnets.com, a blog which advocates for the continued legalization of magnets.