Risk & Compliance

Trump Names Antitrust Lawyer to Head FTC

If confirmed, Joseph Simons "will immediately jump into some contentious issues," including calls for greater scrutiny of big internet companies.
Matthew HellerOctober 19, 2017
Trump Names Antitrust Lawyer to Head FTC

President Donald Trump is filling the three vacancies on the Federal Trade Commission, with veteran antitrust lawyer Joseph Simons to be nominated as chairman.

The FTC currently has only two members — Maureen Ohlhausen, a Republican who has been serving as acting chairman since Trump took office in January, and Democratic commissioner Terrell McSweeny.

In addition to Simons, the White House said the other new members would be Noah Phillips, chief counsel for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), and consumer advocate Rohit Chopra for the commission’s open Democratic seat.

Simons, a partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, was a director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition under the George W. Bush administration from 2001 to 2003, heading up its antitrust enforcement arm.

Joseph Simons, Trump's nominee to head the FTC

FTC chair nominee Joseph Simons

During his tenure at the FTC, the agency sued to stop Diageo and Pernod Ricard from buying Seagram Spirits and Wine in 2001 to prevent a duopoly in rum. It also filed suit in 2003 to stop Haagen-Dazs owner Nestle Holdings from buying Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream. Both cases were settled.

“Simons, if confirmed by the Senate, will immediately jump into some contentious issues, including calls from members of both parties to apply greater scrutiny to the nation’s biggest internet companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon,” Politico said.

Under Ohlausen’s leadership, the FTC recently has penalized Uber for misusing customer data nd blocked a merger of FanDuel and DraftKings, two daily fantasy sports sites.

“Consumer groups will be keeping a close eye on what happens to the FTC under its new leadership,” Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, told Broadcasting & Cable. “The FTC has already fallen behind ensuring consumers are treated fairly by the digital marketplace, especially their right to privacy.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) recommended Chopra, a senior fellow at the Consumer Federation of America, for a commission seat in May. He specializes in consumer protections for young people and military families and served as the assistant director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Barack Obama.

Photo: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison