The independence of Lina Khan’s decision-making as Federal Trade Commission chair is coming under question in light of recent demands from her former employer, the far-left Open Markets Institute, to block Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter. In a post on their website entitled, “Open Markets Details How US Government Can Block Musk Takeover of Twitter,” OMI Director Barry Lynn issued a statement directed towards the FTC in response to the takeover.
The statement is clearly worded to give its audience marching orders for how the US government can go about blocking the Twitter takeover. Phrasing the comments in this way is clearly distinguished from an argument about what the government could or should do. Instead, the wording actually implies that the US government has already decided it ought to block the purchase of Twitter, and that these comments provide a guide of the agencies and approach best suited to blocking it. Such a phrasing is especially relevant as a result of FTC Chair Khan’s historic ties as an former employee of the organization.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote a letter to Khan expressing his concerns that these comments potentially indicated that her independence as FTC chair could be compromised if she were to act based upon the wishes of her former employer. Rep. Jordan astutely notes in his letter to Khan that “OMI appears to believe that the FTC will be receptive to its cavalier effort to influence a federal agency that is run by its former employee.” By not feeling a need to argue what should be done and already jumping to how that action ought to be done, Lynn is expressing a problematic level of confidence in the government’s alignment with the interests of the OMI.
Rep. Jordan has asked Chair Khan to publicly clarify whether she or anyone at the FTC directly assisted in drafting the OMI statement. He also requested to know if the FTC has taken any actions to stop the Twitter purchase. Finally, he requested that the FTC preserve all documents and records relating to the Musk’s deal.
These measures will help put to rest any concerns of conflicts that Khan may have in her role as FTC based upon her relationship with her radical former employer. As of now, however, the FTC has yet to respond with any comments regarding these concerns and has failed to agree to take any measures to alleviate these concerns.