As chairman of the Federal Trade Commission from 1977 to 1981 and a commissioner until 1984, he worked to strengthen the FTC's consumer protection powers. 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 was born on January 12, 1933, in London, England.
He earned his BA from Yale University in 1954 and was a member of the Manuscript Society. He served as a First lieutenant, artillery, United States Army 1954-1956. In 1957 he became an Assistant in instruction at Yale Law School. He received his LL.D., J.D., from Yale Law School and was admitted to the Oregon bar both in 1959.
He 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.
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).
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.