President Joe Biden recently revealed his intention to nominate Andrew Ferguson, the Virginia Solicitor General, and Melissa Holyoak, Utah Solicitor General, as the Republican commissioners to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This announcement was part of Biden’s commitment to promote bipartisan cooperation in his administration.
Before their appointment can take effect, Senate legislators must affirm these candidates to take up these pivotal roles in the FTC. This five-member commission protects American consumers from fraudulent activities, deceptive advertisements, and unethical business practices.
Upon successful Senate approval, the composition of the FTC will include the Democratic Chair, Lina Khan, two Republican commissioners, and two Democratic commissioners. Although the political power balance remains virtually unaltered, this step confirms the administration’s commitment to bipartisan efforts.
In his earlier roles, Andrew Ferguson, before serving as the Virginia Solicitor General, acted as the chief counsel to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) from 2019 to 2021. His illustrious career also included serving as the chief counsel for nominations and the Constitution to former Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and as senior special counsel to then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). His extensive experience includes stints at several prestigious law firms in the District of Columbia and clerkships at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court.
Melissa Holyoak is also an accomplished legal professional with over two decades of experience. The White House has called her a skilled litigator, primarily concentrating on consumer protection. Before joining the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Holyoak was president and general counsel of the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute, a public interest firm based in Washington, D.C. She was also associated with the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Center for Class Action Fairness.
FTC Chair Khan, nominated by Biden in 2021, publicly congratulated Andrew Ferguson and Melissa Holyoak on their nominations. “The Commission operates best at full strength, and I look forward to working with them to fulfill the important mandate Congress has given us,” Khan stated.
Senate Republican Leader McConnell also praised the nominations of Ferguson and Holyoak. He urged the Senate to confirm them without delay, citing the need for “brilliant and talented leaders to protect American consumers and defend our economic future from far-left overreach.”
These nominations come amidst the FTC’s ongoing litigation against Amazon. The retail behemoth is accused of enrolling customers into its $14.99-per-month Amazon Prime subscription service using deceptive designs and making it challenging for them to cancel their subscriptions. Amazon denies these allegations, insisting that “customers love Prime, and by design, we make it clear and simple for customers to sign up for or cancel their Prime membership.”
The FTC’s aggressive approach to antitrust litigation is further exemplified by its efforts to halt transactions such as Amgen’s intended purchase of Horizon Therapeutics, Intercontinental Exchange’s proposed acquisition of Black Knight, and most recently, Microsoft’s $69 billion bid to buy Activision. The FTC’s stance on these matters is pending a court decision.