Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan

Anthony Quintano/Flickr (CC-BY) c-span.org (Fair Use)

GOP lawmakers accuse FTC chair of misleading Congress about Meta probe

The accusation centers on Lina Khan’s lack of recusal in an FTC case against Meta.

 

Katherine Huggins

Tech

Two top House Republicans accused Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan of misleading Congress, calling her lack of recusal from an FTC case challenging Meta an “apparent ethical failure.”

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) wrote in a letter to Khan Wednesday that the two committees “are conducting oversight of your adherence to federal ethics guidance and whether you misled
Congress about following ethics advice.”

The GOP-led investigation follows a Bloomberg report on a memo Khan received last August recommending she recuse herself from the FTC’s case against Meta’s merger with the virtual reality start-up Within.

In the memo, FTC’s ethics official Lorielle Pankey recommended Khan recuse herself from the case “to avoid an appearance of partiality,” though she noted that Khan’s participation in the legal matter would not “constitute a per se federal ethics violation.”

Pankey wrote that Khan’s past calls for the FTC to block any and all acquisitions by Facebook are statements that “raise appearance of partiality concerns in the mind of a reasonable person.”

Jordan and McMorris Rodgers pointed to Khan’s April testimony before an energy subcommittee, when she was asked if there were any instances when she did not follow the advice of the FTC’s ethics official—to which she replied no.

“The recent disclosure of the [ethics] memorandum suggests that your response to Chair
Rodgers during the recent subcommittee hearing omitted an important recommendation by [Pankey] and raises serious questions about your commitment to the fair and impartial
administration of the FTC’s authorities,” the letter reads.

In a second letter sent Wednesday, Jordan requested testimony from 23 different FTC employees, including Pankey, as part of his committee’s efforts to advance “oversight of the out-of-control agency.”

Separately, Khan is set to testify for the first time before Jordan’s committee on July 13 about the FTC’s inquiries into Elon Musk’s actions at Twitter.

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