Congratulations to my friend and former FTC colleague Bill Kovacic (and Orin's current colleague) for being nominated as a Commissioner to the FTC to replace Orson Swindle, who completes his period of distinguished service to the Commission. Bill was General Counsel of the FTC during my time as Director of the Office of Policy Planning. Not only does Bill have an amazing knowledge of antitrust and consumer protecition law, he is one of the truly finest people I have ever met and worked with. He also has an immense appreciation for the history and capabilities of the FTC. It is a well-deserved honor for Bill and even more, a great honor for the country. I think is a testament to the quality of the leadership of the FTC over the past dozen years (Pitofsky, Muris, Majoras) that they have also been able to draw in such able non-Chair Commissioners as well (including minority-party Commissioners, such as Liebowitz and Harbour).
An interesting question is what happens now with the FTC antitrust practice at Jones, Day, one of the leading antitrust firms in town. Kovacic's wife is a partner at Jones, Day, and Chair Debbie Majoras is a former Jones, Day partner. Depending on the recusal policies adopted, this could conceivably recuse two of the three Republican members of the Commission for mergers involving Jones, Day. Of course, this will leave unaffected Jones, Day's DOJ practice.
As for outgoing Commissioner Swindle, I am not aware of his plans after leaving the FTC. But working with Commissioner Swindle was one of the great privileges of my time at the Commission. I just can't say enough about how much I admire Commissioner Swindle. He is a true American hero and a remarkable voice of common sense and sound judgement, not to mention an incredibly friendly and honorable man. I will confess to feeling a bit of awe every time I met with him in his office, surrounded by the memorabilia of his time in the service and Vietnam. An amazing man with an amazing life story.
Plus, he was one of the few fellow Atlanta Braves fans in a Commission seemingly dominated by Yankess fans (hiss). It is unclear what impact Kovacic's appointment will have on the balance of baseball loyalties at the FTC. Perhaps this issue will come out in the confirmation hearings.