President Joe Biden has tapped Utah Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak and Virginia Solicitor General Andrew Ferguson to serve on the Federal Trade Commission as GOP commissioners, the Epoch Times reported. This is part of a longstanding practice of having bipartisan representation at the oversight agency, though it isn't a requirement.
The Senate will have to confirm Biden's choices before it becomes official. Once confirmed, the FTC will be headed by its Democratic chair, Lina Khan, and two Democratic and two Republican commissioners but will not change the power balance.
Both GOP candidates are well qualified for the position. The White House called Holyoak, a consumer protection attorney for two decades, an "experienced litigator."
Ferguson was employed by prominent law firms in Washington, D.C., prior to his role as Virginia solicitor general. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as well as U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Karen L. Henderson on the D.C. Circuit.
The attorney also served as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's chief counsel from 2019 to 2021. Ferguson had a similar role to then-Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) as his chief counsel for nominations and the Constitution.
Ferguson was also senior special counsel to Sen. Chuck Grassley when the Iowa Republican was the Judiciary Committee chairman. With such credentials, the nomination of both Ferguson and Holyoak was well received by Khan, who was herself a Biden pick.
"I congratulate Andrew Ferguson and Melissa Holyoak on their nominations to serve on the Federal Trade Commission," Khan said in a statement Monday. "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," the chairwoman added.
"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 said. McConnell similarly praised Biden's decision to name his former chief counsel and Holyoak.
McConnell believes that they should be confirmed "without delay" in his own statement. "We need brilliant and talented leaders to simultaneously protect American consumers and defend our economic future from far-left overreach," McConnell said.
If confirmed, the nominees would be stepping into their roles as the FTC is embroiled in a lawsuit with Amazon. The FTC recently sued over "deceptive designs" that had customers paying a $14.99 per month subscription fee while making it difficult to unenroll them.
Amazon, which is owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, denied the government's claims. "The FTC’s claims are false on the facts and the law," company spokesman Curtis Eichelberger said in a statement.
"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," he added. The FTC also has lawsuits filed against other large companies.
Microsoft is facing a battle over its $69 billion Activision acquisition. Other lawsuits from the FTC include blocking the sale of Black Knight to Intercontinental Exchange as well as preventing the purchase of Horizon Therapeutics by Amgen.
Biden's choice to keep the FTC bipartisan is a surprising move from the Democrat. Regulatory agencies play an important role even if they sometimes overstep their bounds, but having representation from each party is an important step to prevent that overreach.