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Obama to nominate McSweeny to Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission building is seen in Washington on March 4, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
The Federal Trade Commission building is seen in Washington on March 4, 2012. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama plans to nominate Terrell McSweeny, a veteran of Vice President Joe Biden's staff, to be a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission, the White House said on Friday.

McSweeny, now chief counsel for competition policy at the Justice Department's antitrust division, would fill a Democratic slot on the five-member commission, which enforces antitrust law and laws against deceptive advertising.

The FTC normally has five commissioners, and no more than three can be from the same party.

The current vacancy was created when Edith Ramirez, a law school classmate of Obama and a Democrat, was elevated to the chairmanship after Jon Leibowitz departed in February.

The commission's other Democrat is Julie Brill. Rounding out the group are Republicans Maureen Ohlhausen and Joshua Wright.

The position requires Senate confirmation.

Because of the vacancy, there has been concern about deadlocks leading to inaction. In the case of a 2-2 vote by commissioners, the FTC takes no action.

The commission is in the process of considering several key mergers, including the proposed Office Depot Inc deal to buy rival OfficeMax Inc; and the television ratings company Nielsen Holdings NV plan to buy Arbitron Inc, which dominates radio ratings.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz and Jeff Mason; Editing by Xavier Briand)