SENATE QUESTIONS FTC NOMINEE

Published on .

May 16, 2001

By Ira Teinowitz

WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Timothy Muris' nomination as the new chairman of the Federal Trade Commission appears headed for swift confirmation by the Senate after a Commerce Committee

hearing this morning.

While the committee withheld a formal vote until next week, Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he hoped to have Mr. Muris confirmed prior to the Senate's Memorial Day week recess. The current FTC chairman, Bob Pitofsky, has indicated he will step down in early June.

Gas prices, privacy and violence
At today's hearing Mr. Muris was questioned as to whether the FTC has done enough to look at the reasons for rising gasoline prices and the impact of airline competition on consumers. Senators also asked Mr. Muris whether he would examine consumer privacy concerns and the marketing of violent products to children.

While he said he would keep the FTC focused on how and what marketers are advertising to children, Mr. Muris offered few concrete policy positions on other topics, beyond saying he would stay with the FTC's ongoing probes of major drug companies' efforts to keep generic competitors off the shelves.

Noncommittal candidate
Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., noted with some humor that Mr. Muris' unwillingness to commit himself on issues including privacy might not please senators but didn't hurt his nomination chances.

"You are a good candidate for getting confirmed," Sen. Hollings said.

A professor of law at George Mason University and a conservative who has occasionally disagreed with actions taken by the Pitofsky FTC, the 51-year-old Muris would be returning to the commission for the third time if confirmed.

Mr. Muris was assistant to the director of policy and planning of the FTC from 1974 to 1976 then returned to be thge first director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, which handles advertising issues, and then director of the Bureau of Competition, which handles anti-trust issues, during the Reagan adminsitration.

Copyright May 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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