FTC Chair Out Aug. 15

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It's official: Federal Trade Commission chairman Timothy J. Muris is resigning Aug. 15. He had announced his intention to step down this summer, but had set no firm date, apparently waiting for his successor to be firmed up.

That happened late last Friday, when the White House announced its intention to add Deborah Majoris and Jon Leibowitz to the commission as recess appointments, filling the unexpired term of the departing Muris and replacing commissioner Mozelle Thompson (his term expired in September 2003), with Majoris as chairman.

Both Majoris and Leibowitz had been nominated for seats in the spring (May and April, respectively), but both nominations had been held up by the Senate, with no action taken before Congress left for its six-week break.

The recess appointments mean that the terms of Majoris and Leibowitz will only extend through the the end of the next Congress in late 2005, though they could be nominated and confirmed by the Senate to full terms before then.

Had the nominations been confirmed, Majoris would have filled out the unfilled portion of the seven-year term of Chairman Muris, which would have extended until 2008. Leibowitz would have gotten the full seven years (through 2011).

Both Majoris and Leibowitz are scheduled to take over Aug. 16.

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