Wednesday 15 February 2023

FTC Commissioner Announces Resignation, Cites Biden-Appointed Chair’s ‘Abuse Of Power’

 Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Christine Wilson announced her resignation Tuesday in a Wall Street Journal column, saying she refuses to give Biden-appointed Chair Lina Khan’s “abuses of government power” legitimacy by staying with the agency.

Khan’s time as chair has sparked controversy since shortly after her appointment in June 2021, when Republicans began voicing concern about her alleged exclusion of Republican colleagues from aspects of antitrust enforcement. Wilson, prior to penning her resignation in the WSJ, was  among those critical of Khan’s approach and testified before the Senate in September 2021, accusing Khan of tearing down “the FTC’s rich bipartisan tradition.”

Wilson wrote in her column that pushing back on Khan’s abuses became difficult because she “consolidated power within the Office of the Chairman” and was enabled by “senior FTC officials.”

Wilson pointed to Khan’s actions in the FTC’s challenge to Meta’s acquisition of virtual-reality gaming company Within. 

“Before joining the FTC, Ms. Khan argued that Meta should be blocked from making any future acquisitions and wrote a report on the same issues as a congressional staffer,” she said. “She would now sit as a purportedly impartial judge and decide whether Meta can acquire Within. Spurning due-process considerations and federal ethics obligations, my Democratic colleagues on the commission affirmed Ms. Khan’s decision not to recuse herself.”

Wilson notes in her column that the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey showed 87% of surveyed FTC employees “agreed that senior agency officials maintain high standards of honesty and integrity” under Trump appointees in 2020, while only 49% do today. She said their discomfort is rooted less in policy than in the means Khan uses to accomplish her agenda.

“I disagree with Ms. Khan’s policy goals but understand that elections have consequences,” Wilson said. “My fundamental concern with her leadership of the commission pertains to her willful disregard of congressionally imposed limits on agency jurisdiction, her defiance of legal precedent, and her abuse of power to achieve desired outcomes.”

In its response, the FTC did not address accusations against Khan.

“While we often disagreed with Commissioner Wilson, we respect her devotion to her beliefs and are grateful for her public service,” the FTC responded in a statement Tuesday. “We wish her well in her next endeavor.”

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