Simons, Smith Announce Resignations From FTC

Along with his plans to nominate Rohit Chopra to be the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the previously announced resignation of Ajit Pai as chairman of the Federal Communication Commission, President-elect Biden will get to select the head of another regulator with direct oversight of the accounts receivable management industry following the announcement yesterday that Joseph Simons will resign as chair of the Federal Trade Commission.

A number of other FTC staffers announced their resignations yesterday, including Andrew Smith, who was the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Along with the CFPB, the FTC has enforcement authority over the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Last year, the FTC announced the launch of Operation Corrupt Collector, a joint state-federal initiative aimed at cracking down on operations that engage in abusive or harassing collection practices.

Simons had run the FTC since May 2018 and hired Smith and a number of other executives that same month. Simons resignation will be effective as of January 29. Chopra had been a commissioner at the FTC since 2018. That means there will be two vacancies for the Biden administration to fill, joining current commissioners Noah Phillips, Rebecca Slaughter, and Christine Wilson. Both Phillips and Wilson are Republicans, while Slaughter is a Democrat, meaning that two more Democrats will likely be nominated to replace Simons and Chopra.

“It’s been a great honor to lead this incredible organization filled with so many talented people working on behalf of American consumers,” Simons said, in a statement. “As technology and our economy continue to evolve through the digital age, the FTC’s staff work tirelessly so that consumers continue to benefit from a fair and competitive marketplace. It’s been a privilege to be part of that effort.”

Interestingly enough, Chopra’s status as an FTC commissioner could prove beneficial to the Biden administration, according to a published report. Because he was already confirmed by the Senate, Chopra can serve as acting director of the CFPB while is nomination is pending. Once his nomination is announced, he would have to step down as acting director until he is confirmed by the Senate, according to the report. Current CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger has not indicated yet whether she will resign or force Biden’s to fire her after he takes office later today.

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