Well Recuuuse Me…Or Not: FTC Says No to Recusal Request

SteveMartinexcuseme.jpgWho says the Federal Trade Commish doesn’t move fast enough? Two days after privacy groups the Electronic Privacy Information Center and Center for Digital Democracy filed a complaint requesting the Chairman recuse herself because of alleged conflict of interest, the FTC has come back with a big fat, “N-O.”

The organizations contended Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras should remove herself from the review process, since, they claim, her husband’s law firm Jones Day has advised DoubleClick on the antitrust components of the deal in the U.S. and overseas. The FTC stands by what DoubleClick has said: that Jones Day is not representing the company in the U.S.

In a statement just published by the FTC, Majoras wrote, “I have determined not to recuse myself from this matter because the relevant laws and rules… neither require nor support recusal.”

She also noted, “The FTC’s Ethics Official determined that… no impartiality conflict exists. Further, he determined that, even if my participation in this matter could reasonably raise an appearance issue, the Standards of Conduct did not dictate my recusal.”

Another interesting tidbit:

The Commission was unaware of Jones Day’s representation in Europe. But even if we had been aware sooner, assuming that the conflict analysis resulted in the same recommendation to continue participating – and I have no reason to believe it would not – the fact that I had reviewed with the FTC’s Ethics Official a potential conflict and determined not to recuse myself would not have been announced. Under applicable ethics rules, there is no requirement or, as I understand it, even expectation, that Commissioners publicly reveal that they are not recusing themselves on matters; indeed, that has not been the practice.

Also, it appears Commissioner William Kovacic’s wife also works for Jones Day. He, too, has decided not to recuse himself. Both his wife and Majoras’s husband have converted to nonequity status at Jones Day, according to the FTC.

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