FTC “Zombie Votes” is Catching Attention

By: Noah Vehafric

Since Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra left the agency to become Director the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), it has been left in a 2-2 stalemate between democrats and republicans. Yet in some of its recent proceedings, there have been 5 votes. How? Rohit Chopra never stopped voting, despite leaving the agency. How is this possible?  

In an October 8th email sent by the outgoing commissioner, he left as many as 20 votes that can be counted if two other Commissioners agree with him. This practice which has been called “zombie voting” and it exists thanks to a supposed “internal interpretation” Commission rules Chopra says

The practice has received broad criticism. The minority Commissioners Christine Wilson and Noah Philips called out the practice in the opening line of their October 29th dissenting statement saying that:  

Today, two sitting commissioners join forces with a zombie vote cast weeks ago by the sitting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to launch yet another broadside at the market for corporate control in the United States 

Two top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee also sent a letter to FTC Chair Khan inquiring more details about how the practice, specifically if they will be continued to be used and whether they consult with all of the commissioners beforehand. A group of seven Senators have now introduced legislation to outright ban the practice.  

The use of these zombie votes have raised concerned about “transparency and accountability” says a coalition of 26 organizations who joined together in a letter calling for an investigation by the FTC inspector general about the practice.  

The FTC has an upcoming open commission meeting on December 16th and it is not clear whether Chair Khan will use a zombie vote at this meeting.