Small business expert under consideration for FTC commissioner

Democrat Lillian Salerno specializes in rural issues and served in the Obama administrations Agriculture Department

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A veteran of the Obama administration’s Agriculture Department is under consideration to fill the empty Democratic seat on the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces antitrust law and investigates scams.Lillian Salerno confirmed on Monday that she was backed for the post by small business and women’s groups. “I’m very honored to be considered,” she said.Salerno, who is from Texas, specializes in rural issues. She served as deputy under the secretary of rural development from August 2015 to January 2017.While at the Agriculture Department, Salerno worked on the opioid epidemic and on an initiative on promoting manufacturing in rural areas, according to her LinkedIn web page.The agency, which should have five commissioners, is currently headed by acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen, with Democrat Terrell McSweeny the only other commissioner. Two of the empty seats may go to Republicans, but the remaining seat must go either to a Democrat or an independent.The leading candidate to head the agency is Sean Reyes, Utah’s attorney general, according to a source close to the process.The FTC has two main missions. One is to fight scams and deceptive advertising, such as weight loss scams. The other is to review mergers to ensure they comply with antitrust law.The FTC has sued to stop mergers deemed illegal, such as Staples’ attempt to buy rival Office Depot. Just last week, two Chicago hospital systems scrapped a planned merger because of opposition from the agency.