U.S. FTC won’t ‘back down’ over Chamber of Commerce criticism

FILE PHOTO: FTC Commissioner nominee Lina M. Khan testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on the nomination of Former Senator Bill Nelson to be NASA administrator, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2021. Graeme Jennings/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

November 19, 2021

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said on Friday it would not change course despite criticism from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about a series of actions spearheaded by FTC Chair Lina Khan.

The Chamber of Commerce said on Friday it had written three letters and filed more than 30 Freedom of Information Act requests about what it said were FTC failures to strictly follow rules and giving into political interference.

The Chamber said it was particularly concerned about votes cast by Commissioner Rohit Chopra before he left the FTC but which were announced after his departure. He now heads the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Chamber expressed concern about what it said was White House interference in FTC decision-making and the agency’s decision to use civil penalty authority.

The FTC, which enforces antitrust law and pursues companies accused of deceiving consumers, said it would not change direction.

“The FTC just announced we are ramping up efforts to combat corporate crime and now the Chamber declares ‘war’ on the agency. We are not going to back down because corporate lobbyists are making threats,” said FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan.

“We will continue to do our job and stand up for consumers, honest businesses, workers, and entrepreneurs who deserve a fair marketplace,” he said.

Chamber President and Chief Executive Suzanne Clark said in a statement the FTC was the one “waging a war on American businesses” and also said the FTC was “going rogue”.

The agency has filed a lawsuit accusing Facebook of breaking antitrust law, tightened some merger reviews, been asked to probe high gasoline prices and is considering a study to probe the role of competition in supply chain disruptions.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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