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Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee today, the first time Khan has appeared in front of the committee to answer questions surrounding her tenure. Republican lawmakers held Khan to account on multiple fronts while Democrats attempted to paper over Khan’s failures and ethical lapses. 

Here are five takeaways from today’s hearing. 

Lina Khan’s Law License is Delinquent 

A sizzling line of questioning by Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wy.) revealed that Lina Khan is not a member of good standing with the New York State bar. Khan’s registration status is listed as “delinquent,” which means that she is not paying bar dues, completing continuing legal education, or maintaining an active law license. If Khan’s delinquent status persists, she could face disciplinary action.

Additionally, Hageman pointed out that Khan claimed the title of “counsel” for House Judiciary Democrats from 2019-2020 in her Senate questionnaire during her confirmation process. Hageman noted that the title of “counsel” is reserved for practicing attorneys, and that D.C. law prohibits individuals from unauthorized practice of law. Given that Khan was admitted to the bar in July 2020, she falsely claimed to be a practicing attorney when she worked for House Judiciary by claiming the title of “counsel.” Khan was only a law school graduate when she worked for the committee. 

Add this to the pile of ethical issues Khan finds herself in. 

Lina Khan’s FTC Prioritizes Progressive Activism Over Maximizing Consumer Welfare

The consumer welfare standard stipulates that antitrust law exists to protect consumers and maximize consumer welfare. If consumers are not being harmed through tangible effects like higher prices, reduced quality, or hampered innovation, antitrust intervention is not warranted or justified. This value-neutral standard, which has underpinned antitrust law for five decades, keeps the government focused on protecting consumers instead of pushing unrelated policy goals. 

For years, Khan has publicly stated that the consumer welfare standard should be mothballed in favor of a more activist approach that would increase government power over existing and nascent markets. Throughout the hearing, Khan was pressed over her lack of support for the consumer welfare standard and repeatedly failed to assure lawmakers that her view of antitrust law would do a better job at protecting consumers. 

Notably, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Az.) cited Democratic Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter’s support for a “diversity, equity, and anti-racist” standard for antitrust enforcement and asked Khan if that has replaced the consumer welfare standard at the FTC, which Khan has undermined at every turn through word and deed. Khan dodged. Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) asked Khan what standard she would replace the consumer welfare standard with that would do a better job at protecting consumers. Khan dodged again. 

Rep. Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) line of questioning hit at a central issue with Khan’s disregard for the consumer welfare standard. The FTC has an important mission to protect consumers. Khan’s relentless focus on rewarding some groups and constituencies while punishing others runs counter to the FTC’s mission. 

Lawmakers Think Lina Khan is Wasting Taxpayer Money 

Khan has requested an eye-popping $590 million in new funding for FY24, a $160 million increase from FY23. The House Appropriations Committee is seeking a 25 percent reduction in FTC funding from FY23, a clear sign of disapproval with Khan’s leadership. 

Throughout the Judiciary hearing, lawmakers pressed Khan on her stewardship of the taxpayer resources already at her disposal. Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.) pointed to Khan’s long-held view that pursuing losing cases is necessary to spur Congress to update antitrust laws, and asked Khan if she was losing cases on purpose. Kiley repeatedly asked why the FTC needs more taxpayer money if it is squandering existing resources on cases it will never win. 

Khan’s deployment of personnel to Europe to assist bureaucrats in implementing the “Digital Markets Act” also came under fire during the hearing. Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) pointed out that the FTC, which Khan constantly claims is cash-strapped and understaffed, somehow has enough resources to send staff on European junkets. Khan had no idea how much it costs to send a staffer to Europe for this purpose. It remains unclear why staff need to go to Europe in person while Khan runs the agency remotely from New York City. 

Staff Morale and Unpaid Consultant Issues Remain at Forefront 

Lawmakers questioned Khan on her use of unpaid consultants, an area where Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has a standing probe. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) stumped Khan with basic questions about how often she is in touch with these consultants or what they are working on. 

The consultant issue will likely continue to attract Congressional attention. News broke Wednesday night that Khan hired a consultant to work on FTC’s lawsuit against Meta that previously worked for Bytedance, the Chinese tech giant that owns TikTok. Meta’s largest competitor is TikTok. It boggles the mind that Khan is relying on an individual with ties to a Chinese company to take down an American company. 

Rep. Russell Fry (R-S.C.) drilled Khan on FTC staff morale that has been in freefall since Khan took the helm. The FTC has plummeted from one of the best places to work in government to one of the worst as Khan’s “abusive” and “tyrannical” leadership style drives staffers to the brink. Khan dodged questions from Fry and Van Drew about efforts to improve morale as well as any leadership lessons she’s learned over her tenure. 

Republicans Will Continue To Hold Lina Khan Accountable 

The FTC is an agency off the rails. The longer Khan is in charge, the worse things get. With Khan’s recent statement that she intends to remain at the helm through the end of next year, the light at the end of the tunnel remains to be seen. 

While Democrats desperately tried to paper over Khan’s failed tenure as FTC chair, Republicans up and down the dais held Khan accountable with well-prepared questions. Americans for Tax Reform commends Chairman Jordan and the rest of Judiciary Republicans for their leadership in reining the FTC in.