President Bush has named Sharon Brown-Hruska, (search) a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (search), as acting head of the agency, the White House announced Friday.

Brown-Hruska, one of only two commissioners on the depleted panel, will replace James Newsome — who is leaving as chairman nearly two years early to take a top job at the New York Mercantile Exchange (search), one of the commodity exchanges regulated by the agency.

Newsome's resignation was effective Friday; Brown-Hruska's appointment takes effect on Saturday.

Brown-Hruska, an economist, is closely associated with Wendy Walter Lukken, both Republicans, as CFTC commissioners stirred some controversy in the spring of 2002 during their Senate confirmation proceedings.

Brown-Hruska worked in the CFTC's Division of Economic Analysis when Gramm as chairwoman shepherded through the agency an exemption from government regulation for electronic energy trading, which benefited Enron and other companies. Before becoming a CFTC commissioner, Brown-Hruska taught finance at George Mason University outside Washington, where Gramm heads the regulatory studies program.

In recent months, the CFTC has reached settlements totaling tens of millions of dollars with an array of energy companies accused of improper trading practices, including attempted market manipulation and phony reporting of trades.

"I eagerly look forward to ... maintaining the CFTC's reputation as a fair but firm overseer of U.S. futures markets and a champion in the development of futures markets around the world," Brown-Hruska said in a statement Friday.

Bush also will nominate her to a second term as commissioner expiring in April 2009, the White House said.

Normally there would be four commissioners in addition to the chairman, but the two Democratic-designated seats are vacant, which has angered some Senate Democrats.