President Biden has nominated Virginia Solicitor General Andrew Ferguson and Utah Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak to fill Republican slots at the Federal Trade Commission, the White House said Monday.
If confirmed by the Senate, the two Republicans will not change the balance of power at the FTC, which enforces antitrust law and rules against deceptive advertising. It currently has a Democratic chair, Lina Khan, and two Democratic commissioners.
Under the Biden administration, the FTC has taken a tougher stand against mergers it finds may lead to higher prices for consumers or stunt innovation.
Khan said in a statement that Ferguson and Holyoak “would bring key skills, experiences, and expertise to the Commission.”
The FTC “operates best at full strength, and I will look forward to working with them,” said Khan, who was sharply criticized by former Republican commissioner Christine Wilson.
The agency is expected to file a case against Amazon, perhaps as early as this summer. It filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook during former President Donald Trump’s administration, which has not yet gone to trial.
The FTC is also considering Kroger’s plan to buy rival grocer Albertsons, among other deals.
Ferguson was chief counsel to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell from 2019 until 2021. He has also worked for Sens. Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley.
McConnell, who is responsible for submitting nominees to the White House, applauded the nominations. “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 urging the Senate to “confirm them without delay.”
Holyoak is the Utah Solicitor General with the Utah Attorney General’s Office. She has previously worked as an associate at the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP, and at Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute, which focuses on fighting class action lawsuits and aggressive regulation, as well as at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Center for Class Action Fairness.
Among its current cases, the FTC sued to stop Microsoft’s $69 billion deal to buy Activision, and is awaiting a court decision in the matter.
Also this year, the agency has filed complaints aimed at stopping a pharmaceutical deal, Amgen’s purchase of Horizon Therapeutics, as well as Intercontinental Exchange’s planned purchase of Black Knight. It is also fighting Illumina over its purchase of Grail.