Acting Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission Maureen Ohlhausen announced today that Thomas Pahl – a current partner at Arnall Golden Gregory with significant experience at both the FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – will take over as Acting Director on February 17. Jessica Rich will depart as Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, a position she has held since 2013.
While currently in private practice, Pahl previously spent more than twenty years at the FTC, including stints as Assistant Director of the Division of Financial Practices and Assistant Director in the Division of Advertising Practices. After his time at the FTC, Pahl served as a Managing Counsel in the Office of Regulations at the CFPB, where he oversaw rulemaking, guidance, and policy development activities relating to debt collection, credit reporting, and financial privacy. Pahl also advised Reagan appointee and FTC Commissioner Mary Azcuenaga, and served as an attorney advisor to Republican FTC Commissioner Orson Swindle.
Pahl recently praised the appointment of then-Commissioner Ohlhausen as Acting Chairwoman as a “wise choice” that will “place the agency in very capable hands” and suggested that President Trump “should give serious consideration to making Ohlhausen the permanent chairman of the FTC.” In announcing his appointment, Acting Chairman Ohlhausen commented that “Tom’s career demonstrates his continuing commitment to protecting consumers through active enforcement and advocacy that promotes a free and honest marketplace.”
Outgoing Bureau Director Jessica Rich served in various capacities at the FTC for 26 years and has presided over the Bureau of Consumer Protection since 2013, when she was appointed by former Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. During her tenure, Rich advocated for rigorous enforcement of consumer protection laws and oversaw a number of high profile enforcement actions against major corporations such as Volkswagen, Apple, Google, and Amazon. She also championed efforts to expand the Commission’s efforts to regulate privacy and data security practices under the FTC Act, as well as to develop the technological expertise necessary to protect consumers in a constantly-evolving marketplace.
Further shake-ups at the Commission are inevitable. With former Chairwoman and current Commissioner Ramirez’s departure effective this coming Friday, there will be three vacancies on the five-person Commission. However, the interim appointments of Commissioner Ohlhausen as Chairwoman and Pahl as Acting Bureau Director suggest that top positions at the Commission may continue to be filled by individuals with significant consumer protection experience. Stay tuned.