President Barack Obama will appoint Edith Ramirez to be the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission, making her the first woman and person of Hispanic descent to hold the position.
According to a senior administration official, Obama holds Ramirez in high regard for her work at the FTC, where she has been a commissioner since 2010.
“Ramirez brings decades of experience and will continue to fulfill the FTC's mission by protecting consumers from fraud, deception and unfair business practices, as well as maintaining competition to prevent anticompetitive mergers and business practices in the marketplace,” the official said. “Over the past few years Ramirez has been instrumental in ensuring there is robust competition and innovation in the high tech marketplace, and has worked hard to protect the most vulnerable communities.”
Before joining the FTC in April of 2010, Ramirez was a partner at the in the Los Angeles law office of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, where she worked on intellectual property, antitrust, unfair competition, and Lanham Act matters. She received an A.B. in History from Harvard University and her law degree from Harvard Law School, where she served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review.
The announcement comes on the heels of calls from Latino groups that the Obama administration appoints at least three Hispanics to key cabinet posts. The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda sent a letter to Obama before his inauguration with a list of 19 potential Latino candidates for cabinet positions. Ramirez was not part of the list.
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“It's just an issue of fairness. Obviously, Latinos did deliver,” Hector Sanchez, leader of NHLA, told Fox News Latino in January. “We want at least three Latino Cabinet members, we believe that is a fair reflection of the diversity of the nation.”
Ramirez's appointment drew praise from a number of Latino groups, including the League of United Latin American Citizens called her a "driving force in maintaining robust competition and innovation in the high-tech marketplace."
“We are happy to see President Obama appoint such an outstanding individual whose prestigious background in the private sector and whose current work as a commissioner of the FTC makes her the perfect candidate for chairwoman of the agency,” said LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes in a statement. “We look forward to working with Edith Ramirez to ensure that the minority community receives the necessary protections in today’s technology-driven marketplace.”
Ramirez takes over for outgoing FTC chair Jon Leibowitz, who announced last month he would be stepping down from the post. Leibowitz has been with the commission since 2004 and was named the FTC chair in 2009.
During his time at the helm of the FTC, Leibowitz focused on online privacy issues and took on Internet giants like Facebook and Google for failing to adhere to their own privacy policies. With her experience in intellectual property law, Ramirez is expected to continue the work of predecessor.
By appointing a current FTC commissioner to the FTC chair, the Obama administration is able to bypass the lengthy Senate confirmation process that has bogged down a number of his other appointments – most recently being Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
Obama still needs to pick a new commissioner to fill the position that Ramirez will vacate.
Follow Andrew O'Reilly on Twitter @aoreilly84.