WASHINGTON Dec 14 The head of the U.S. Federal
Trade Commission, which is reviewing Google's (GOOG.O) proposed
purchase of DoubleClick, said on Friday she would not recuse
herself even though the law firm her husband works for is
representing DoubleClick before European regulators.
Two privacy groups had argued that FTC Chairman Deborah
Platt Majoras should recuse herself from the antitrust review
because DoubleClick had hired her old law firm, Jones Day, to
represent them before the European Commission. John Majoras,
her husband, remains at Jones Day.
The $3.1 billion deal would combine Google's dominance in
pay-per-click Internet advertising with DoubleClick's
market-leading position in flashier display ads.
European antitrust officials are also conducting a review.
In a statement, Deborah Majoras said that her husband was
no longer an equity partner in the firm.
"Any decisions that I may make in any case in which Jones
Day represent a party cannot be said to directly and
predictably affect my husband's interest in Jones Day. Hence, I
do not have a financial conflict in this matter," Majoras said
in a statement.
Another commissioner, William Kovacic, said that his wife
also was a Jones Day lawyer who was not working on the
Google-DoubleClick deal. "I have determined not to recuse
myself," he added.
The other three commissioners, Pamela Jones Harbour, Jon
Leibowitz and J. Thomas Rosch all agreed. "We ... see no legal
grounds that would disqualify them from participating in the
investigation of the Google-DoubleClick transaction," they
wrote in a joint statement.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center
for Digital Democracy had requested Majoras' recusal in a
filing to the commission on Wednesday.
Privacy groups have expressed concern about the deal
because of the data the companies store on computer users'
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)