Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez announced today that she will resign her position effective February 10, leaving the Commission with three vacancies and just two remaining commissioners. Chairwoman Ramirez has been a commissioner since April 5, 2010 and became Chairwoman on March 4, 2013.
In announcing her resignation, she remarked: “It has been the honor of a lifetime to lead the Federal Trade Commission and to have played a role in advancing American consumers’ ability to navigate fast-paced digital markets and promoting business competition across the economy. I thank my fellow Commissioners and all of the talented FTC staff for their support and dedicated public service during my tenure.” As noted in the FTC’s press release, Chairwoman Ramirez’s tenure was notable for aggressive enforcement of consumer protection and antitrust laws, resulting in “nearly 400 law enforcement actions covering a range of consumer protection issues and approximately 100 enforcement actions challenging anticompetitive mergers and business conduct in major sectors of the economy.”
Assuming no new appointments between President-Elect Trump’s inauguration and February 10, the Commission will be in the rare situation of having only two commissioners on the five-person body. The Commission could continue to bring enforcement actions under FTC rules, assuming Commissioners Ohlhausen and McSweeny both agreed. With just two confirmed commissioners, any Commission enforcement decision and most official actions would require both to agree. Commissioner Ohlhausen, a Republican, has been a commissioner since April 2012 and could take the chair under the new administration. Commissioner McSweeny, a Democrat, was appointed in April 2014 to a term that expires in September 2017.