Dec. 6, 2018

Federal Trade Commission's Andrew Smith Has Conflicts With 120 Companies. How Can He Do His Job?

Statements of Public Citizen Experts

Note: In response to a documents request from Public Citizen, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a list of 120 companies that Andrew Smith, the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection head, has conflicts with. Smith is barred from participating in any matter related to these companies, which raises questions about Smith's ability to perform his duties. In May, Public Citizen requested documents related to Smith's conflicts. In August, the FTC released 479 pages of documents , almost all of them wholly or partially redacted. Public Citizen appealed the FTC's decision; Friday's release was in response to that appeal.

"Even in an administration full of unprecedented conflicts of interests, Mr. Smith's conflicts stand out from the pack. The Federal Trade Commission should be protecting consumers against predatory payday lenders and corporate bad actors rather than giving the corporate lawyer who has represented these companies a job. This is one more example of the fox guarding the henhouse."

- Lisa Gilbert, vice present of legislative affairs"

"I have written ethics agreements for White House officials and I have never seen a list of conflicts so vast across so many industries. Twitter, Verizon, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Expedia, Citigroup, LinkedIn, Uber Gilead Sciences, Facebook … the list goes on and on. Andrew Smith is literally not able to do his job. He has ties to a vast universe of financial predators that are likely to break the law – and he won't be able to enforce the law against them. We need someone who can."

- Remington A. Gregg, counsel for civil justice and consumer rights

Read the list of Smith's conflicts (PDF).