By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump has selected Joseph Simons, an antitrust attorney from a Washington law firm, to head the Federal Trade Commission, a White House official said on Wednesday.
Trump is expected to nominate Simons to the agency, along with Noah Phillips and Rohit Chopra to be FTC commissioners, the White House official said. Upon confirmation, Simons will be designated chairman, the official said.
The agency is currently headed by Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen, a Republican, with Democrat Terrell McSweeny the only other commissioner. The president has long been expected to name a permanent chair and fill the three empty commission seats, two Republican and one Democrat or independent.
Simons, a partner at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, was a director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition from 2001 to 2003.
During Simons' tenure at the FTC, the agency sued to stop Diageo PLC and Pernod Ricard from buying Seagram Spirits and Wine in 2001 to prevent a duopoly in rum. The FTC also filed a lawsuit in 2003 to stop Haagen-Dazs owner Nestle Holdings Inc from buying Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Inc, which makes also superpremium ice cream. The FTC later settled both cases.
Noah Phillips, who graduated from Stanford Law School in 2005, is chief counsel for U.S. Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican. He is also a veteran of the law firms Steptoe & Johnson LLP and Cravath, Swaine & Moore.
To fill the empty Democratic seat on the commission, the president tapped Rohit Chopra, a financial services expert. Chopra, an ally of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, is currently at the Consumer Federation of America.
The FTC works with the Justice Department to enforce antitrust law and pursues companies accused of deceptive advertising. It is an independent agency that is headed by a chairman and four commissioners. No more than three commissioners can come from any one party.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Diane Craft)