Wrath of Khan: Lawmakers say FTC chairwoman spurning Congress, abusing staff

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House lawmakers say Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Lina Khan is ignoring Congress, abusing her agency’s staff and breaking promises to make her work transparent.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans are sounding alarms about the behavior of President Biden’s appointee in the aftermath of the last remaining Republican commissioner at the agency choosing to quit rather than work with Ms. Khan.

The FTC has pressed forward with exclusively Democratic commissioners as it pursues its mission of protecting consumers from deceptive business practices and unfair competition.

Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington Republican, and Gus Bilirakis, Florida Republican, wrote to Ms. Khan that they had concerns about her conduct that they said has driven away public servants.

The lawmakers said more than 120 FTC employees left between June 15, 2021, and May 2, 2022, amid complaints about Ms. Khan being abusive and tyrannical, but she has refused to change course.

“Despite numerous letters of concern, from myself and other Republican members of Congress, you have continued to ignore the concerns of other commissioners in a dangerous and misguided consolidation of power,” the lawmakers wrote to Ms. Khan on Tuesday. “The continued decline in staff confidence and approval is evidence of your disregard for concerns raised by Congress.”

While the agency is intended to be impartial, the lawmakers said the Republican commissioners’ early exits before their terms expired have revealed Ms. Khan’s claim of nonpartisanship to fall flat.

Christine Wilson announced her intention to quit as a commissioner last month in a blistering Wall Street Journal op-ed that accused the FTC of “continuing lawlessness” under Ms. Khan’s direction.

Ms. Wilson cited the FTC’s challenge of Meta’s acquisition of the virtual reality platform Within Unlimited as the sort of action she believed was inappropriate.

A federal judge killed the FTC’s judicial effort to prevent the acquisition last month, and the agency then turned to an in-house review.

Ms. Khan refused to recuse herself from the internal matter, though Ms. Wilson said Ms. Khan had argued in favor of preventing Meta from making any future acquisitions before Ms. Khan joined the FTC.

The FTC then dropped its in-house challenge in February as scrutiny of its work has mounted, but Congress does not appear poised to relinquish its review of Ms. Khan’s actions.

The Energy and Commerce Committee is demanding Ms. Khan hand over documents and provide answers to questions about how it will work in a nonpartisan fashion while every commissioner is a Democrat.

Ms. McMorris Rodgers, the committee’s chairwoman, and Mr. Bilirakis, who leads a committee panel with oversight of the FTC, pressed Ms. Khan to answer their questions by March 14.

FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan said Friday that the agency received the lawmakers’ letter.

In response to Ms. Wilson’s criticism, the remaining Democratic FTC commissioners previously issued a joint statement saying they respected her and wished her well in future endeavors. 





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