Antitrust Law Daily Ohlhausen designated to serve as acting FTC chairman
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Ohlhausen designated to serve as acting FTC chairman

By Jeffrey May, J.D.

Maureen K. Ohlhausen, the lone Republican among the three current members of the FTC, has been designated by President Donald J. Trump to serve as acting FTC chairman, the agency announced late today. Commissioner Edith Ramirez, who had most recently served as the chairman, disclosed on January 13 her intention to resign on February 10. There has been much speculation about who Trump will name to serve as commissioners at the agency in light of the three vacancies that will result from Ramirez’s departure.

Joshua D. Wright, who served as an FTC commissioner from 2013 to 2015, has been advising the president’s transition team on antitrust matters. There is talk that he could return to the agency or perhaps head up the Department of Justice Antitrust Division.

Ohlhausen has been a commissioner since April 2012. Her term expires in September 2018. Over the years, she has cast dissenting votes when disagreeing with her Democrat colleagues. She did this in a number of matters recently announced as the Obama Administration drew to a close. Notably, the Commissioner took issue with the agency’s action against Qualcomm Inc. for allegedly unlawfully maintaining its monopoly in a type of semiconductor device that enables cellular communications in cell phones.

"I am deeply honored that President Trump has asked me to serve as Acting Chairman of the FTC and to preserve America’s true engine of prosperity: a free, honest, and competitive marketplace," Acting Chairman Ohlhausen said in response to the designation. "In pursuit of that mission, I will work to protect all consumers from fraud, deception, and unfair practices. I will safeguard competition while preserving American innovation and promoting economic liberty for all citizens. Finally, I will ensure the Commission minimizes the burdens on legitimate business as we carry out this vital work."

The third member of the Commission, Terrell McSweeny, has not yet revealed any plans about remaining at the agency. Her term expires later this year.

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