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Trump picks Warren ally, former CFPB assistant director Rohit Chopra for FTC post

Also served as senior adviser at Department of Education in Obama administration

In what might seem like an unlikely move, President Donald Trump selected Rohit Chopra to serve as a member of the Federal Trade Commission.

Chopra’s selection comes as bit of surprise, considering that Chopra is a close ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a former member of Hillary Clinton’s transition team, a former Obama administration official, and a former assistant director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

But due to FTC rules, some bipartisanship is necessary among the FTC Commissioners.

The FTC is lead by five commissioners, which are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Each commissioner serves a seven-year term, and no more than three commissioners can come from the same political party.

There are currently two FTC commissioners – Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen and Terrell McSweeny. Ohlhausen took over as FTC chair when Edith Ramirez resigned in February.

According to an announcement from the White House, if confirmed, Chopra would serve the remainder of a term that expires on Sept. 25, 2019.

Chopra is currently a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Federation of America, where he focuses on consumer protection issues facing young people and military families, according to the bio provided by the White House.

Chopra worked at the CFPB from 2010-2015 as an assistant director, where he focused on student debt. Chopra also served as student loan ombudsman at the CFPB during his time with the bureau.

It was during that time that Chopra was particularly outspoken about the impact of student loan debt on the first-time homebuyer.

In October 2013, Chopra said, “We are already seeing signs of economic drag from student loan debt. The impact on the housing market is the most troubling part.”

Chopra has also been closely associated with Warren, the driving force behind the founding of the CFPB.

Two years ago, Warren reportedly lobbied New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and others in his office in an attempt to see Chopra named as the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, New York’s top financial regulator.

While Cuomo was in the process of selecting a replacement for Ben Lawsky as NYDFS superintendent, Warren spoke out in favor of Chopra getting the job.

“I’ve had a chance to work closely with Rohit Chopra at the new consumer agency and over the time since,” Warren posted on Facebook in June 2015. “He is smart as a whip, independent, hard-working, and loaded with integrity. The New York banking superintendent is an important overseer of Wall Street, and I think Rohit would be phenomenal in that role.”

Ultimately, Cuomo named Maria Vullo, a former staffer of Cuomo’s who served as Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice when Cuomo was the New York State Attorney General, as the NYDFS superintendent.

Chopra instead joined the Department of Education as a senior adviser during the Obama administration, before leaving to serve as Senior Fellow at the Consumer Federation of America.

Now, he could be moving to the FTC, pending Senate approval, of course.

Trump also picked Joseph Simons, who is currently a partner and co-chair of the Antitrust Group at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, to serve as FTC chair.

Simons previously served at the FTC under President George W. Bush. During his first tour at the FTC, Simons was in charge of antitrust enforcement, serving as Director of the Bureau of Competition from 2001 to 2003.

If approved by the Senate, Simons would serve a seven-year term beginning Sept. 26, 2017.

Both Chopra and Simons would join the FTC at a time when the agency is investigating the massive data breach at Equifax that exposed the personal information of 145.5 million U.S. consumers to hackers.

Recently, sixteen Senate Democrats also asked the FTC to “immediately” review the data security at Equifax, Experian, and Transunion to ensure that consumers’ personal information is appropriately protected from hackers.

(Image above courtesy of Paul Brady Photography / Shutterstock.com)

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