Michael Pertschuk (born January 12, 1933) is an American attorney and advocate for consumer protection and public health. Pertschuk served as a member of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from 1977 to 1984, and served as FTC Chair from 1977 to 1981. During his tenure, Pertschuk worked to strengthen the FTC’s consumer protection powers.
Prior to joining the FTC, Pertschuk worked on Capitol Hill, where he was nicknamed the “101st Senator” owing to his influencing in passing consumer protection legisltion. Pertschuk served as chief counsel and staff director to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation from 1965 to 1976 and was instrumental in drafting the landmark legislation requiring cigarette warning labels and banning broadcast advertising of tobacco products. He also helped pass auto and product safety laws and the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act.
Pertschuk was born on January 12, 1933, in London, United Kingdom. Pertschuck earned his B.A. degree from Yale University in 1954 and was a member of the Manuscript Society. Pertschuk served as a First lieutenant, artillery, United States Army from 1954 to 1956. In 1957 he became an Assistant in instruction at Yale Law School. He received his J.D. degree from Yale Law School and was admitted to the Oregon bar both in 1959. Pertschuk married, Carleen Joyce Dooley in 1954; they divorced in 1976. He married Anna Sofaer in 1977.
- 1959-1960 Law clerk for United States District Court Judge Gus J. Solomon, Portland, Oreg.
- 1960-1962 Associate in law firm, Hart, Rockwood, Davies, Biggs & Strayer, Portland, Oreg.
- 1962-1964 Legislative assistant, Senator Maurine B. Neuberger of Oregon
- 1964-1968 Consumer counsel, Senate Commerce Committee
- 1968-1977 Chief counsel, staff director, Senate Commerce Committee
- 1977-1981 Chairman, Federal Trade Commission
- 1981-1984 Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission
- 1982 Published Revolt Against Regulation: The Rise and Pause of the Consumer Movement. Berkeley: University of California Press
- 1984- Codirector, Advocacy Institute, Washington, D.C. (now director emeritus)
- 1984-1985 Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C.
In 1985, Pertschuk was elected to the Common Cause National Governing Board. He was also co-founder and co-director of the Advocacy Institute. He founded the Smoking Control Advocacy Resource Center, which as part of the Advocacy Institute (see above) provided guides, training, strategic counseling, and other resources to combat the tobacco industry. On May 1, 2013, he received the Champion Award from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids for his five decades of leadership in the fight against tobacco.
He is the author of Revolt against Regulation: The Rise and Pause of the Consumer Movement; Giant Killers (1986); Smoke in Their Eyes: Lessons in Movement Leadership from the Tobacco Wars (2001); with Wendy Schaetzel, The People Rising: The Campaign Against the Bork Nomination (1989); and The DeMarco Factor: Transforming Public Will into Political Power (2010) regarding the work of Vincent DeMarco.
He is the author of four of the tobacco control movement’s most influential guides, and he was instrumental in developing GLOBALink, the primary communication tool for the international tobacco control movement.
The papers of Michael Pertschuk are available at the United States Library of Congress. They span the years 1949-2002, with the majority of the papers concentrated from 1977 through 2001. They focus on Pertschuk’s work in the arena of consumer protection and consist of two parts processed at different times. Part I relates primarily to Pertschuk’s career in the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Part II focuses primarily on his writing projects and his work in the field of public interest lobbying and as a tobacco control advocate in the years following his departure from the FTC. The file includes correspondence with Jack Anderson, Patricia P. Bailey, David Brinkley, Jimmy Carter, David Cohen, John D. Dingell, James Florio, Lewis H. Goldfarb, David Horowitz, George W. Koch, Warren G. Magnuson, Colman McCarthy, James C. Miller III, Walter Mondale, Edmund S. Muskie, Ralph Nader, Victor S. Navasky, Esther Peterson, Robert Pitofsky, Alan A. Ransom, Ronald Reagan, David A. Rice, Warren B. Rudman, Alan K. Simpson, Philip M. Stern , Robert S. Strauss, Jack Watson, and Caspar W. Weinberger.