by Rich Sill
Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan regarding her former employer, Open Markets Institute, stating that the federal government should block Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter. In the letter, Jordan addressed his concern that Khan’s former ties to the left-wing organization may influence her to act against Musk.
The Open Markets Institute is a left-leaning think tank that calls for the breaking up of corporate power and monopolies to support a “more inclusive democracy”. Khan helped launch the group in 2017 and served as its Legal Director until 2018. During her time with the group, she had a history of urging the government to go after and regulate successful American tech companies. Shortly after it was announced that Elon Musk was going to purchase Twitter, OMI released a statement calling on Biden regulators at the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Justice Department to ‘block’ the purchase.
Many people are concerned that Khan’s deep ties to OMI may influence her to use her FTC Chair powers to take action against Musk’s acquisition; this could include blocking the deal entirely in order to regulate tech companies and push her own progressive agenda. Since joining the agency, Facebook and Amazon have both asked her to remove herself from any antitrust litigation, claiming that she has a clear bias against them that is well documented.
Online free speech has been a major issue, especially at Twitter, over the past few years. Several conservative voices and ideas have been censored and/or banned from the platform, thus creating at the very least an appearance of a left-wing bias. Republicans such as Representative Jordan are worried that OMI “may be trying to leverage its close relationship with you to act to further limit free speech online.”
Since President Biden entered office last year, the FTC has been pushing more progressive goals by attempting to break up large tech companies. This includes, but is not limited to, ignoring the precedent consumer welfare standard, instead creating new and unfair regulations against successful American tech companies. As Representative Jordan stated in his letter, the progressive FTC is attempting to “undermine capitalism and threaten innovation.” Likewise, the agency under Khan’s leadership is attempting to enable the government to… disrupt free markets and… fundamental American freedoms. Perhaps OMI seems to think it may have a friendly ear in the FTC.”
Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter has led to a lot of backlash from the left. However, no matter how divisive the reaction to the purchase may be, the federal government should not step in to block it in the name of attempting to win a political battle.