Some Consumer Advocates Skeptical of Trump’s FTC Transition Team’s Alex Pollock
Alex Pollock, an expert in financial systems who was picked by President-elect Donald Trump’s team last week to help effect the transition for the FTC (see 1611220049), is considered an enigmatic if not unfriendly choice by some consumer protection advocates. Others said in interviews the FTC may thrive under Republican leadership and Pollock, a fellow at the R Street Institute, could signal expansion of FTC authority — possibly at the expense of the FCC or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
John Breyault, National Consumers League vice president-public policy, telecommunications and fraud, who doesn’t know Pollock personally, said his selection is “puzzling” because his background has been in financial deregulation.
Pollock, who declined an interview, works on policy for banking, mortgage finance and the Federal Reserve, said his R Street profile. Before joining the free-market think tank, he was a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and president-CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago from 1991 to 2004. His colleague at R Street, fellow Mike Godwin, emailed that Pollock “is a thoughtful, knowledgeable man, and I expect he’ll serve the Trump transition team well.”
Breyault said Pollock’s past writings have referred to the FTC’s bipartisan structure as a model for the CFPB when that agency started about five years ago. “It doesn’t seem like he’s an FTC guy,” said Breyault. “I don’t know he necessarily gets how the FTC operates … and I don’t know what he would do at the FTC.”
But AEI Senior Fellow Peter Wallison said Pollock has “exceedingly good judgment” about organizations and setting their priorities. As head of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, Pollock oversaw a large staff that also was engaged in some consumer protection, said Wallison, White House counsel to then-President Ronald Reagan: In this role, Pollock will talk to people at the FTC to “get an idea of what the problems are in the agency that they’re wrestling with right now and then you make recommendations to the incoming Trump administration about things they ought to be looking at immediately when they walk in the door.”
Wallison said no one should be worried about changes to the commission, encouraging consumer protection advocates to meet with Pollock to convey their concerns about the agency. Wallison speculated Pollock, who also was named to oversee the transition for the Treasury Department’s Financial Stability Oversight Council, likely would work through the end of December on the transition.