Friday 18 August 2023

GOP Presses FTC On Alleged Destruction Of Records

 A trio of Republican lawmakers demanded on Thursday that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) answer for how it preserves records as they raised concerns about documents sought by congressional investigators being improperly destroyed.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the ranking member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, joined with two House chairmen in writing a letter to FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan — a copy of which was obtained by The Daily Wire — seeking information about the retention policies and practices for records at the agency tasked with antitrust enforcement and protecting consumers.

The FTC “likely violated federal law” with the deletion of records, the lawmakers wrote, adding that the agency “impeded Congressional oversight of the FTC’s recent, unprecedented actions, including its proposed rule banning non-compete clauses.”

House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), another signee on the letter along with Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-KY), made a request in February seeking details on the proposed rule that “exceeds [the Commission’s] delegated authority and imposes a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach that violates basic American principles of federalism and free markets,” according to the letter.

FTC responded three months later by telling House Judiciary Committee staff “that it had ‘deleted material likely responsive to the Committee’s requests,’ including records of the employee on detail from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who led the FTC’s rulemaking,” the letter said.

“To date, the FTC has not adequately addressed concerns about its record retention policy,” the letter added. “The agency has not explained how documents were deleted related to a rulemaking that the FTC should have known would face litigation, FOIA requests, and Congressional oversight. In addition, the FTC has not explained how federal records from senior advisors at the FTC could be deleted, regardless of whether there were litigation or other holds placed on the documents.”

The new letter also made note of a memo from early last year by the FTC’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) that said the FTC faced “challenges” in “complying with National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) records schedule requirements” and “setting up automated practices for properly storing and timely disposing of records in a uniform manner across the agency” despite making “significant progress in some areas of records management, such as shifting to all-electronic recordkeeping.”

“The OIG found it ‘[p]articularly noteworthy’ that ‘the Bureau of Competition and the Bureau of Consumer Protection do not use a comprehensive case management system for their case files’ and that FTC management had ‘no plans’” to store files on the FTC’s cloud platform, rather than various shared drive folders,” the letter said. “In response to the OIG’s findings, you stated that you were ‘committed to ensuring appropriate management controls are in place and operating as intended.'”


The lawmakers outlined how the Federal Records Act imposes certain record keeping requirements on agencies and said the FTC has “struggled” to comply with the law.

The Republican trio demanded written answers and relevant documents about what the FTC has done to respond to earlier requests for information by Jordan and others. They also seek information about what the FTC has done to address issues with the agency’s file management practices, among other things. The lawmakers set a deadline of August 31.

“Congress and the public deserve an explanation of why the FTC improperly destroyed records, what records it improperly destroyed, and what steps will be taken to ensure it never happens again,” the lawmakers wrote.

An FTC spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Wire that the agency received the letter.

“The FTC maintains records in accordance with federal law, including Federal Information Security Management Act requirements on the retention of records and disposal of records for security purposes,” the spokesperson added.

Post a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search