Republican FTC Commissioners Name Payday Lender Lawyer to Run Consumer Protection Bureau Over Dem Commissioners’ Objections

by Jeff Sovern

The NY Times has the story here. Excerpt:

The director, Andrew M. Smith, has recently represented Facebook, Uber and Equifax — all companies with matters before the commission — and plans to recuse himself from dozens of cases now that he has been confirmed for the post.

And in 2012, Mr. Smith was also part of the legal team that defended AMG Services, the payday lender founded by the convicted racketeer Scott Tucker, whose predatory practices against impoverished borrowers eventually led to a $1.3 billion court-ordered settlement, the biggest in the commission’s history.

I hope that the theory of "set a thief to catch a thief" that was famously used to justify the appointment of Joseph Kennedy as head of the SEC works here, but in the realm of consumer protection, that theory has not worked very well (I don't know enough about Kennedy's brief tenure to know if it worked there either; and just to be clear, I do not mean that Mr. Smith is a thief). The divided vote does not bode well for the functioning of the newly-reconstituted FTC on consumer protection matters, but I hope that as the commissioners continue to work together, things will shift towards giving the minority a louder voice on consumer protection matters.


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