Chairs Rodgers and Bilirakis Open Investigation into Left-Wing Influence and Intimidation at the FTC
Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Gus Bilirakis today sent letters to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan, Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, and Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya with questions regarding recently released communications between left-wing progressive groups and FTC officials. The communications appear to show these progressive groups seeking to influence FTC policy through coercion and threats. To better determine the extent to which these progressive groups and the White House are influencing FTC policy, Chair Rodgers and Subcommittee Chair Bilirakis specifically asked Chair Khan if she coordinated with these groups to pressure Commissioner Bedoya or other commission officials.
BACKGROUND: On Friday, June 16, 2023, Commissioner Bedoya, submitted to the Secretary of the FTC several ex-parte communications directed to him in May 2023, including text messages and in-person communications between him, his personal staff, and left-wing activists. The harassing communications from activists were in response to Bedoya issuing a statement in which he indicated disagreement with action taken by Chair Khan, action the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board characterized as a “power grab.” The communications that ensued between Commissioner Bedoya, his office, and individuals affiliated with progressive groups appear to show a coordinated pressure campaign of FTC officials.
Excerpts from the text messages sent to Commissioner Bedoya by Mr. Dan Geldon, an antitrust reform consultant and former chief of staff to Senator Elizabeth Warren, are included below. Commissioner Bedoya did not respond to these messages.
Mr. Geldon followed up after the initial message stating:
Mr. Geldon then texted a staffer of the Commissioner, who explained in the green text that there is now a prohibition on communicating regarding an active administrative proceeding.
WHY IT MATTERS: In response to these troubling interactions, Chair Rodgers and Subcommittee Chair Bilirakis are asking the FTC to be more transparent about how left-wing radical activists appear to be dictating the commission’s policy decisions. These harassing messages raise serious questions related to how the FTC, an independent agency, could be influenced by the White House through left-wing activist groups that self-identify as advising on personnel decisions in the Biden administration.
The members asked Chair Khan the following questions to determine her involvement in this brazen campaign of intimidation:
- Did you direct the individuals, or groups associated with the individuals, mentioned in Commissioner Bedoya’s production, to treat Commissioner Bedoya in this manner?
- Were you made aware that Commissioner Bedoya would be threatened and did you tell AELP not to invite Commissioner Bedoya to their summit?
In addition, the members asked the Chair and the Commissioners:
- Has behavior by progressive activists, like what was detailed in Commissioner Bedoya’s ex parte notice, contributed to low staff morale and the departures of long-time staff of the Commission?
- Has Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign approached you about hiring anyone from his organization’s list of “400 recommended names for positions,” in the Biden Administration? If so, did you hire any of these individuals? Did you recommend that any of these individuals be appointed to career positions at the FTC because of all the vacancies created by low morale under your leadership of the Commission?
- Can you provide all communications (including but not limited to notes, text messages, emails and attachments, call logs, or memos to file after an in-person interaction) that you or your staff have had with Dan Geldon, Adam Green, and those who work at their organizations?
- Can you provide dates and attendees at any meetings attended by you or your staff, FTC career staff, and Dan Geldon, Adam Green, and those who work at their organizations, and a summary of what was discussed?
- Can you provide any information, or communications--including but not limited to notes, text messages, emails and attachments, call logs, or memos to file after an in-person interaction—your offices have had related to coordination with the White House and outside groups on matters related to the “summer strategy of amplifying some of the FTC’s bold moves?” What are the “bold moves” referred to in this exchange? Information related to all interactions and communications—including but not limited to notes, text messages, emails and attachments, call logs, or memos to file after an in-person interaction—that career, non-political, staff have had with the individuals and organizations associated with Dan Geldon, Adam Green, and those who work at their organizations?
CLICK HERE to read the full letter.