Letter urges swift action to break deadlock, free U.S. businesses from unwarranted, abusive enforcement actions

Washington, D.C. – Cause of Action Institute (“CoA Institute”) sent a letter to President Trump, imploring him to move quickly to appoint one or more commissioners to fill current vacancies at the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”). The letter suggests that just one additional commissioner could break deadlock to halt the agency’s pattern and practice of regulatory overreach and rein in recent unconstitutional enforcement actions that harm the economy and the rule of law.

The letter states that although the FTC’s acting chair, Maureen Ohlhausen, “has done a commendable job of addressing the excesses and lawlessness that plagued the agency, the acting chair cannot fully right the ship unless and until you appoint one or more commissioners who share her commitment to advancing economic liberty and believe that responsible businesses should have the freedom to succeed, unfettered by rogue regulators chasing chimerical harms.”

The letter states:

“The acting chair’s ability to promote competition and protect the free market and consumers from overregulation and overreach is hamstrung by the current gridlock on the Commission. Although Congress intended for the Commission to be an independent, bipartisan, five-member administrative body, there are currently only two commissioners: Acting Chair Ohlhausen, a Republican, and Commissioner Terrell McSweeney, a Democrat.

“Because a majority of commissioners must vote to approve most Commission actions, and because only one of the two current commissioners shares the administration’s commitment to cutting bureaucratic red tape to grow the economy, the Commission is hopelessly deadlocked on important policy issues affecting the entire private economy, such as the FTC’s controversial efforts to regulate data security, technology, and privacy for all U.S. businesses citing its authority under Section 5 of the FTC Act to prohibit ‘unfair’ or ‘deceptive’ business practices.”

The letter highlights several controversial “midnight” enforcement actions initiated just before the Trump administration began, that were undertaken in the absence of proven consumer harm. For instance, as the acting chair explained in her dissent from one such “midnight” enforcement action:

“[I]n the Commission’s 2-1 decision to sue Qualcomm, I face an extraordinary situation: an enforcement action based on a flawed legal theory (including a standalone Section 5 count) that lacks economic and evidentiary support, that was brought on the eve of a new presidential administration, and that, by its mere issuance, will undermine U.S. intellectual property rights in Asia and worldwide. These extreme circumstances compel me to voice my objections.”

The letter concludes, “[T]he acting chair should not be the lone (and thus powerless) voice of reason and sound economic policy on the Commission. For these reasons, we respectfully ask that you expeditiously appoint one or more Commissioners to the FTC at your earliest convenience to assist the Acting Chair in furtherance of this Administration’s efforts to reduce regulatory burdens and improve Americans’ liberty to create.”

The letter was signed by John J. Vecchione, president and CEO of CoA Institute. The full letter is available here

For information regarding this press release, please contact Zachary Kurz, Director of Communications: zachary.kurz@causeofaction.org