The Federal Trade Commission has named former managing counsel to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Thomas Pahl as the head of the Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Pahl has been is no stranger to Capitol Hill. Over the course of his career, he’s served as legal counsel for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee under Utah Senator Orrin Hatch’s chairmanship.
The appointment also won’t be Pahl’s first trip to the FTC. He worked at the commission as the assistant director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s Division of Financial Practices and Advertising Practices. He also served as a former attorney advisor to multiple FTC commissioners.
Despite Pahl’s familiarity with the commission, he may appear an odd choice to run a bureau that aims to protect consumers. Pahl has long advocated for doing away with many of what he and fellow conservatives see as excessive regulation.
During his tenure at the FTC in the 1990s, he helped repeal a rule requiring businesses warn consumers about the potentially lethal danger of quick-freeze aerosol spray. He also helped see the abandon of the FTC’s regulations on fallout shelters, first put in place during the Cold War.
Pahl has also been vocal in his belief that the CFPB has too much independent freedom and too much power. Last November, he told Bloomberg, “I think there’s going to be a change in the senior leadership of the CFPB very soon, and with that change in leadership there will be a greater opportunity to raise concerns with the agency about costs and unintended consequences of its policy choices, especially when it involves newer technologies.”
Pahl received the nod for his position from Maureen Ohlhausen, the acting chairperson of the FTC. Ohlhausen shares in Pahl’s interest for deregulation and has served as a dissenting voice on many of the consumer protection actions taken by the commission during her tenure there.
Ohlhausen opposed a $20 million settlement with the ride-hailing app Uber, which was accused of promising drivers inflated earnings. She also was against the decision to sue Qualcomm for allegedly creating a monopoly on semiconductors.
It’s likely that Ohlhausen and Pahl will continue their practice of rolling back regulations throughout the FTC and allow businesses to operate with less oversight and intrusion from the agency.