U.S. FTC chair says he will resign along with senior staff

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joseph Simons testifies at Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the proposed budgets for the FCC and the FTC on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joseph Simons said on Tuesday that he would resign effective Jan. 29, along with members of his senior staff.

Simons, who announced his departure in a news release, did not say why he was leaving, but the FTC’s chief typically leaves when a new administration comes in.

The five-member FTC is also losing Democratic Commissioner Rohit Chopra, who has been nominated to head the Consumer Financial Protection Board.

Under Simons’ tenure, the agency filed one of the several government antitrust lawsuits aimed at reining in Big Tech. The FTC’s lawsuit against Facebook, filed last month, accused the social media giant of seeking to either buy or crush smaller competitors.

The remaining commissioners will be Rebecca Slaughter, a Democrat, and Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson, who are Republican.

Simons said he would step down along with General Counsel Alden Abbott, Bureau of Competition Director Ian Conner, Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith, Bureau of Economics Director Andrew Sweeting and Office of Policy Planning Director Bilal Sayyed.

The agency enforces antitrust law, along with the Justice Department, as well as laws against deceptive advertising. It is also involved in online privacy matters.

Reporting by Diane Bartzd; editing by Jonathan Oatis