Obama Names Edith Ramirez to Chair Federal Trade Commission

New chair has close political ties with Obama

President Barack Obama will officially name Edith Ramirez to be the next chairman of the Federal Trade Commission on Monday, March 4, the FTC confirmed.

Ramirez's appointment was not a total surprise, although many in Washington were betting her colleague, commissioner Julie Brill would get the top spot. Both joined the FTC in 2010, but Brill has been far more visible than Ramirez.

Ramirez will replace outgoing chairman Jon Leibowitz, who announced he would exit the commission this month.

Since Ramirez is currently a commissioner, her appointment will not require Senate confirmation. However, Obama still needs to appoint a third Democratic commissioner, which will require Senate approval.

Ultimately, Obama picked the commissioner with whom he had the closest political ties. She's a former Harvard Law classmate of Obama's and handled Latino outreach for his 2008 campaign. Prior to joining the FTC, she was a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in Los Angeles.

The appointment also helps Obama make the case that his Administration is not just a boy's club.

Although Ramirez is seen as an antitrust and litigation expert, she has also been a strong supporter of consumer protection issues, helping to advance the commission's work on privacy and national advertising. In a statement, she indicated that she will continue down the path forged under Leibowitz to take a hard line in both areas.

"I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners and the able FTC staff to continue the agency's proud history of promoting vigorous competition and protecting consumers…I welcome the opportunity to build on [chairman Leibowitz's] legacy of active enforcement of our antitrust and consumer protection laws," Ramirez said in a statement.

"Advertisers will need to be very attentive in ensuring their claims are substantiated. If the FTC finds violations, they will be intent on on tough remedies," said Lee Peeler, the CEO of the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council and a former FTC official.

While advertisers might not always agree with Ramirez, they praised her as smart, fair and clear.

"She has always been a very good listener and asks penetrating questions," said Dan Jaffe, evp of the Association of National Advertisers. "She expects advertisers to meet the highest standards."

Privacy advocates anticipate Ramirez will continue to build on establishing the agency as the nation's leader on privacy policy. "Under her leadership, we expect the FTC to blaze new ground on privacy, especially involving mobile devices, digital data brokers and Do Not Track," said Jeff Chester, the executive director for the Center for Digital Democracy.