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Rohit Chopra, Progressive Student Loan Watchdog, Recommended for FTC Commissioner

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is composed of five Commissioners each with terms of seven years. The Commissioners are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. At any given time, no more than three Commissioners may be members of the same political party. Currently, Acting Chairman Ohlhausen (R) and Commissioner McSweeny (D) are the only FTC Commissioners. President Trump, therefore, can nominate two republican Commissioners and a democrat or independent commissioner. On May 9, United States Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) formally recommended to President Donald Trump that Rohit Chopra fill the empty Democratic FTC Commissioner position. It is not clear how President Trump will proceed following the recommendation. Prior presidents have typically relied on recommendations from opposition leaders when deciding on a nominee for a minority commissioner.

WHO IS ROHIT CHOPRA?

  • Chopra is a Harvard University (BA) and Wharton School (MBA) graduate who has focused his career on consumer protection; specifically, advocacy for student loan forgiveness and better student loan servicing, and criticism of for-profit universities.

  • Chopra was one of the initial employees of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau(CFPB), founded in July 2010 and proposed in 2007 by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in response to the Great Recession. There, Chopra served as Assistant Director and Student Loan Ombudsman, where he worked to improve student loan servicing and sued ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges Inc. for consumer fraud.

  • In 2015, Chopra became a Senior Fellow at progressive think tank the Center for American Progress.

  • He then joined the Obama Administration as Special Advisor to the Secretary of Education, after having been critical of the Obama Administration’s work on student loan issues while at the CFPB. In particular, he encouraged the Secretary of Education to combat data showing that student loan debt doubled under the Obama Administration and the amount of student loans in default continued to increase.

  • Currently, Chopra serves as a Senior Fellow of the Consumer Federation of America, a non-profit consumer protection organization founded in 1968.

WHAT THIS MEANS?

  • If appointed, Chopra would be a non-lawyer FTC Commissioner without significant experience in antitrust issues, having worked solely in the consumer protection arena.

  • Chopra would replace former FTC Chairman Edith Ramirez, another progressive, who resigned her position effective February 10, 2017.

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About this Author

Katharine O'Connor, McDermott Law Firm, Antitrust
Associate

Katharine O’Connor is an associate in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the Firm’s Chicago office.  She focuses her practice on antitrust and competition. She has tried cases before juries, judges, and arbitration panels, presented evidentiary hearings in federal and administrative courts, and argued before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and state courts.

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Gregory E. Heltzer, Mergers and Acquisitions Lawyer, Antitrust Attorney, McDermott Will Emery, Law Firm
Partner

Gregory E. Heltzer is a partner in the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery LLP and is based in the Firm's Washington, D.C., office.  He focuses his practice on defending mergers and acquisitions before the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice, state antitrust authorities and foreign competition authorities.  In addition, his practice also includes complex antitrust litigation, government investigations and antitrust counseling (e.g., advising agricultural cooperatives on the requirements of the Capper Volstead Act).

202-756-8178