The chairman, meanwhile, apeared to have struck pay dirt even before Douglas came on board. He won a major victory last week when the commission agreed to a settlement giving the Kroger Co. more latitude over grocery ads that earlier had been found to be deceptive.
That 1981 FTC ruling had been under attack by Miller and his close associate, Timothy J. Muris, director of the FTC's bureau of consumer protection.
In a dissenting statement, Pertschuk called the settlement "illusory," and said it is "a product of a sustained ideologically based attack on this case by the chairman and the director of the bureau of consumer protection in connection with their proposals for weakening the commission's deception and advertising sustantiation standards."
At issue is a Kroger ad campaign featuring the headline, "Once again the price patrol proves Kroger is the grocery price leader." The FTC originally found the ad deceptive because the survey was run by Kroger employes who would be in a position to know comparative prices of the merchandise surveyed, and because it omitted meats and produce where the chain generally charged more.
Miller, in Senate testimony last July, called the original FTC decision "an example of the tendency of the commission to pursue interpretations of advertising claims that reasonable consumers would not believe the advertiser made." Muris agreed, saying in a March memo that "there was no evidence that consumers were likely to have been injured."