Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Senate Committee Hears from FTC Nominees

This posting was written by Jeffrey May, Editor of CCH Trade Regulation Reporter.

The two nominees to serve as commissioners at the Federal Trade Commission testified today before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Julie Brill, Senior Deputy Attorney General and Chief of Consumer Protection for North Carolina, and Edith Ramirez, a partner with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, LLP, told the committee of their accomplishments and their plans if confirmed as commissioners.

The committee also heard from persons nominated for other positions: David L. Strickland (nominated as Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration U.S. Department of Transportation), Nicole Y. Lamb-Hale (nominated as the Assistant Secretary for Manufacturing and Services, U.S. Department of Commerce), and Michael A. Khouri (nominated as Commissioner of the Federal Maritime Commission).

Brill, who had served for many years in the Vermont Attorney General’s Office, was proudly introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Brill said that her top priority, if confirmed as an FTC member, would be “focusing on economic scams that have been so pernicious to consumers during the economic crisis,” such as “get rich quick” scams.

Brill described what she would bring to the Commission as: “passion for aggressively protecting consumers, humility and grace in exercising authority, and the need to carefully balance the interests and concerns of businesses, consumers, and other stakeholders in legislative, regulatory and law enforcement initiatives.”

In light of Brill’s experience with state enforcement, the nominee said that she hoped to build upon the bonds that already exist between the FTC and the state attorneys general. She expressed her belief that the FTC has done a good job in the consumer protection area, especially lately.

In introductory remarks, Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller, IV (West Virginia) said that Edith Ramirez would bring extensive experience in complex business litigation and that he appreciated her critical eye for mergers and business combinations which may potentially harm consumers.

Ramirez said that she was confident that her experience and background, including her activities in her community, would enable her to bring a fresh perspective to the issues confronting the FTC.

She said that “the Commission’s duty to combat deceptive and unfair business practices and to foster competition has never been greater, particularly in the areas that have the greatest impact on the daily lives of ordinary Americans such as financial services, healthcare, energy, and technology.”

Ramirez said that she would make it a priority to help ordinary Americans understand the role of the FTC and its consumer protection mission.

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