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Biden Announces 2 Republican Nominees for FTC Positions

President Joe Biden has announced plans to nominate Virginia Solicitor General Andrew Ferguson and Utah Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak to serve as Republican commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The White House announced the GOP nominations—part of a longstanding practice to include bipartisan membership—in a July 3 press release.

Senate lawmakers will need to vote to confirm Biden’s nominees for the FTC positions before they can work for the agency, which consists of five commissioners and works to protect U.S. consumers from fraudulent behavior, deceptive advertising, and unfair business practices.

If the Senate does confirm the nominations of the two solicitors general, the FTC will be made up of a Democratic chair, Lina Khan, and two Republican and two Democratic commissioners, although the balance of power will remain relatively unchanged.

Prior to his role as Virginia solicitor general, Ferguson served as chief counsel to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) from 2019 until 2021. He has also worked as chief counsel for nominations and the Constitution to then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and as senior special counsel to then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Ferguson also worked at several large law firms in the District of Columbia and clerked for Judge Karen L. Henderson on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and for Justice Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court.

Holyoak, meanwhile, was described by the White House as an “experienced litigator,” having spent much of her 20 years of practice focused on consumer protection.

Nominees Welcomed by FTC Chair

Prior to joining the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Holyoak served as president and general counsel of Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest firm that represents consumers in unfair class action lawsuits, free speech, and regulatory overreach.

She also previously worked with the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Center for Class Action Fairness.

Current FTC Chair Khan, who was nominated by Biden in 2021, welcomed the Republican nominees in a statement on Monday.

“I congratulate Andrew Ferguson and Melissa Holyoak on their nominations to serve on the Federal Trade Commission. Each would bring key skills, experiences, and expertise to the Commission as we work to promote fair competition and protect Americans from unfair or deceptive practices,” Khan said.

“The Commission operates best at full strength, and I look forward to working with them to fulfill the important mandate Congress has given us,” the FTC chair added.

McConnell also applauded the nominations of Ferguson and Holyoak and called on the Senate to confirm them “without delay.”

“We need brilliant and talented leaders to simultaneously protect American consumers and defend our economic future from far-left overreach,” McConnell said in a statement.

FTC Sues Amazon

Biden’s nominations come as the FTC recently sued retail giant Amazon, shortly after the company settled a separate lawsuit with the agency over claims it violated children’s privacy laws.

The agency alleges the Jeff Bezos-owned company used “deceptive designs” in violation of U.S. law to enroll customers in its $14.99-per-month Amazon Prime subscription service without their consent and made it difficult for them to cancel their subscriptions.

Amazon has denied the FTC’s allegations.

“The FTC’s claims are false on the facts and the law,” Amazon spokesman Curtis Eichelberger said in a statement to Politico last month. “The truth is that customers love Prime, and by design, we make it clear and simple for customers to both sign up for or cancel their Prime membership.”

In June, Amazon agreed to pay the FTC a total of $30.8 million to settle claims that it allowed employees and third-party contractors of its Ring video camera doorbell unit to surveil customers in their homes and illegally retained children’s voice recordings through its Alexa app.

Along with Amazon, the FTC has also filed lawsuits in an effort to prevent Amgen’s purchase of Horizon Therapeutics as well as Intercontinental Exchange’s planned purchase of Black Knight.

Most recently, the agency sued to stop Microsoft’s $69 billion deal to buy Activision, and is awaiting a court decision in the matter.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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