Obama picks new FTC commissioner
President Obama has nominated Joshua Wright to be an FTC commissioner. Wright is an antitrust professor at the George Mason University School of Law and has a PhD in economics.
The FTC is one of the two federal agencies responsible for the enforcement of antitrust laws in the U.S – the other being the Department of Justice. The FTC is made up of five commissioners. No more than three commissioners can belong to the same political party. Commissioners are appointed for 7-year terms.
The Chairman of the Commission is Jon Leibowitz (Democrat). In April 2010, the FTC took on a more Democratic-slant with the appointment of two Democrats, Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill, replacing Republican and Independent commissioners. Since then, the Republican seats have changed personnel with Maureen Ohlhausen replacing former Chairman Bill Kovacic and Joshua Wright now replacing Thomas Rosch, whose term ended this month.
Obama’s nomination of Wright, which must be confirmed by the Senate, was somewhat unexpected. It was thought that the appointment would be made after the November Presidential elections. Wright is generally considered more conservative than Rosch and has written in the past about antitrust allegations surrounding Google. There in a long-running and deep FTC investigation into whether Google’s practices are anticompetitive and Wright is not expected to take part in that investigation.
Leadership change at the Antitrust Division of the DOJ is also underway. In February. President Obama nominated William Baer to head the Division which is currently being considered by the Senate.