Responds to Threat to Defund Parts of Agency

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Responding to a story that appeared on AdAge.com this morning, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Tim Muris vigorously defended his agency against a senator's charges and threats.

Mr. Muris' move was the latest step in an increasingly ugly feud with Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, D-S.C., the powerful chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee who has opposed Mr. Muris' decision to have the FTC cede antitrust oversight of media mergers to the Justice Department.

This morning's AdAge.com

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Ugly Public Feud Heats Up Further
story reported that Sen. Hollings has directed the FTC to prepare a "cost analysis" of eliminating the agency's public relations, lobbying staff and anyone making more than $100,000 in salary. The article also quoted Sen. Hollings as saying he wanted to "eliminate" Mr. Muris.

An aide later said the comment had been made flippantly and not entirely seriously.

Rhetoric continues
This afternoon in a statement Mr. Muris upped the rhetoric.

"If Sen. Hollings were to succeed ... the agency would have no legal authority to move forward with its responsibilities, including its rule-making, investigative and law enforcement functions," the statement said.

He also reiterated his earlier comment that Sen. Hollings, a strong backer of the FTC, would be endangering the commission with his proposed cuts.

"I am surprised that Sen. Hollings, being such a strong advocate of consumer protection, would consider a measure that would virtually eliminate the FTC's ability to protect consumers," Mr. Muris said.

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