The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) under Biden appointee Lina Khan continues to cast a dark shadow over the agency’s responsibility to protect American consumers.
Since her confirmation last summer, Khan has aggressively pushed a hyper-regulatory agenda that rejects the rule of law in pursuit of a progressive policy agenda. Khan has ignored legal precedent to harass American industry in a manner that’s only gained steam since Democrat appointees gained a 3-2 majority.
Khan’s ideological focus led to the FTC losing two recent merger challenges before its own internal court and now an upcoming Supreme Court case in response the FTC’s overreach will challenge the constitutionality of the agency’s in-house administrative trial process altogether. Two of the five FTC commissioners have accused Khan of a “disturbing trend of pulling the rug out under from honest businesses and the lawyers who advise them, with no explanation and no sound basis.”
Case in point: just last week, Khan made an appearance as a speaker at the Annual Convention of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA). This is of course wildly inappropriate as the NCPA lobbied Khan to open a “probe” into the competitive impact of the contracting and business practices of pharmacy benefit managers, NCPA’s competitors.
After initially failing in a split vote to open a probe earlier in February, Khan vowed to take up the vote again later in the year.
In her speech, Khan threw out any appearance of impartiality, going as far as siding with NCPA against “unlawful business practices that are depriving Americans of affordable medicines and impeding fair competition,” prior to the completion of an FTC study or any publication of findings.
This episode is only the latest abuse of Khan. In August, an Office of Inspector General report found that the FTC under Khan is apparently breaking federal law by relying on unpaid and unaccountable consultants without “a formal process, informed by policy and procedures, to capture the scope of unpaid experts’ or consultants’ work.”
Khan’s “abusive” and “tyrannical” leadership has tanked agency morale. A recent MLEX survey showed widespread dissatisfaction at the agency, even with those who agree with Khan’s radically expansive view of antitrust law. One staffer said: “There is a view inside the agency that there is a willingness to just kind of ignore the law and the facts sometimes if it’s going to further the ideological mission.”
House Judiciary Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sent a letter addressed to Chair Khan demanding more information and making a formal request to preserve all existing and future records and materials relating to issue.
Should Republicans retake Congress after the midterm election, increasing oversight and accountability at the FTC must be a top priority to ensure the agency stays within its statutory authority.