Today President Trump announced the intent to nominate two individuals to the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”): Joseph Simons (as Chairman) and Rohit Chopra. Senate confirmation hearings are expected to occur this fall, with the possibility of confirmation before the end of the year. The White House also stated today that President Trump intends to subsequently nominate Noah Phillips for another seat on the FTC.
Mr. Simons, who previously served as Director of the Bureau of Competition at the FTC, has promoted economic-based antitrust review and has expressed enforcement views similar to those of prior Republican appointees. But his background also suggests he is willing to pursue enforcement actions. Rohit Chopra, the Democratic nominee, was previously the Assistant Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”), where he focused in particular on education and student loan issues, and has strong consumer protection views but minimal antitrust exposure.
Today’s announcement and the expected nomination of Mr. Phillips reflects a balance between the antitrust and consumer protection missions of the FTC. While the views of the Republican nominees are clearly aligned with a traditional less-interventionist perspective on antitrust, their litigation experience combined with the likely pro-enforcement inclination of Democrats suggests that the FTC will be willing and able to litigate cases when doing so will protect competition or consumers.