On June 1, House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) sent a letter requesting a broad swath of documents from Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan. This investigation will evaluate the allegations of recently resigned FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson.
In her Wall Street Journal op-ed detailing the reasons she resigned from the Commission, Wilson claimed that the FTC has shown a disregard for the rule of law and due process under Khan’s leadership that made it “impossible” for her to serve. Wilson also alluded to Khan’s abuses of power in office, including but certainly not limited to muzzling dissenting viewpoints. This Oversight investigation will allow Congress to identify and address the various factors contributing to the toxic environment that has precluded Wilson from finishing her term as commissioner.
This investigation marks the third congressional inquiry from this year alone into the ethics of Khan’s policies and practices as FTC Chair. In March 2023, House Judiciary Chairman Jordan opened an investigation into the agency’s “abuse of its statutory authorities in investigating Twitter.” Similarly, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) also requested documents regarding the resignation of Commissioner Wilson, especially in light of “continued decline[s] in staff confidence and approval” that led them to flatly conclude that Khan “will no longer be able to claim [she is] taking a non-partisan approach.” These investigations will hopefully unveil the root causes of ethically dubious behavior of this “abusive” and “tyrannical” boss.
Rep. Comer justifiably warns that the consecutive resignations of the only two Republican commissioners in Lina Khan’s FTC “raise questions whether the FTC under Chair Khan has become a rogue agency—particularly given Chair Khan’s drive at the beginning of her tenure to ‘bulldoz[e] procedural safeguards,’ ‘consolidate agency power,’ ‘unilaterally assert and expand regulatory authority,’ and ‘abandon bipartisan and open processes.”’ The FTC was created to be a bipartisan avenue to protect consumers from harm by companies abusing their market power. Instead, it has become weaponized as a tool of the Biden Administration to target companies that could attract headlines and political points, even though these cases typically proceed in a rushed manner with a wildly insufficient factual basis.
Congress must continue to exert pressure on Chair Khan so long as she continues this partisan and unprincipled approach to presiding over the FTC. Going forward, these committees must remain firm on their document requests, even as the FTC attempts to duck these constitutionally warranted oversight requests. The work of these committees will shift the FTC back towards being an agent for safeguarding American consumers, instead of a weapon for the Biden Administration’s progressive political agenda.