President Bush last Thursday designated Commissioner Sharon Brown-Hruska to serve as acting chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), effective July 24, and announced his intent to nominate her for a second term on the CFTC.

Brown-Hruska succeeds outgoing James E. Newsome, who held the post since December 2001. He left the agency to accept the position of president at the New York Mercantile Exchange (see NGI, July 12).

Newsome’s departure leaves three vacancies at the normally five-member CFTC, said CFTC spokesman R. David Gary. He noted the agency, however, will be able to conduct business with only two members left — Brown-Hruska and Commissioner Walter Lukken.

Brown-Hruska currently is serving out a grace period. Her term officially expired in April of this year. The White House last Thursday announced its intent to re-nominate her for a second term expiring on April 13, 2009.

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, which has jurisdiction over CFTC nominations, now must hold a hearing on Brown-Hruska’s nomination, and then forward it to the full Senate for confirmation.

Hruska-Brown, a firm believer in the markets, said she plans to continue the efforts of Newsome and maintain the CFTC’s reputation as a “fair but firm overseer of U.S. futures markets and a champion in the development of futures markets around the world.”

She opposes overly prescriptive regulatory or legislative action to remedy manipulative behavior in the energy sector, warning that in the end it could “chill or kill” the market. “In our effort to squelch manipulative behavior, we may end up unwittingly nurturing it by encouraging non-competitive, illiquid markets,” she said in an October 2003 speech.

Brown-Hruska, who holds a doctorate degree, previously taught at George Mason University, Tulane University and Virginia Tech University. She also served in the CFTC’s Division of Economic Analysis.

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