Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez announced Friday she is leaving the panel, effective Feb. 10. The Post reported exclusively Friday morning that she was exiting the commission.
Her departure will leave only two FTC Commissioners — one Democrat and one Republican — on a governing body. Ramirez was “urged to leave” the panel altogether by the Trump administration, and not merely resign as chairwoman, a source close to the situation said. She was seen as an antitrust activist by some, suing successfully to stop Staples from merging with Office Depot, and Sysco from merging with US Foods.
The new interim FTC Commissioner will be Republican Maureen Ohlhausen, according to a source. Until more commissioners are appointed, it will be very hard to get both Ohlhausen and Terrell McSweeny to block a merger, meaning deals will just get approved when merger timing agreements expire, a source said. Ramirez and her staff are trying quickly to wrap up several matters before she leaves, sources said.
Those include Walgreen’s pending $9. 4 billion merger with which after a review is expected to win approval. In a Friday press release the FTC said Ramirez, who became chairwoman March 4, 2013, brought nearly 400 law enforcement actions covering a range of consumer protection issues.
Approximately 100 enforcement actions challenged mergers and business conduct, according to the FTC. These include a $10 billion settlement in 2016 with Volkswagen Group of America to compensate consumers deceived by VW’s “clean diesel” advertising campaign, and a $1. 2 billion settlement with a pharmaceutical company for delaying generic competition for a sleep disorder drug.
The FTC on Ramirez’s watch also cut a $200 million dollar settlement with Herbalife related to deceptive business practices; and reimbursements of tens of millions of dollars to consumers whose mobile phone bills were “crammed” with unauthorized charges..