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House GOP Signals It Wants Probe of FTC’s Khan Over Unpaid Consultants

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- House Republicans are scrutinizing US Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan’s use of unpaid consultants and signaled the GOP could open a formal investigation if the party regains control of the House in the November elections.

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The House Judiciary Committee’s Republican leadership wrote in a letter to the FTC on Friday that Khan’s agency may have violated limits on the use of outside experts. Khan has “improperly empowered these consultants and experts to drive the agency’s radical, anti-free market agenda,” the letter said.

Ranking member Jim Jordan of Ohio in the letter asked Khan to provide a series of documents and information by Sept. 8. He also asked Khan to preserve all documents relating to the use of unpaid consultants, foreshadowing a formal investigation by the full committee if the GOP regains control of the House in the upcoming midterm elections. The GOP has signaled that it will ratchet up scrutiny of Khan more broadly if it retakes the majority.

The Judiciary Committee has oversight of the FTC’s antitrust mandate, while the Energy and Commerce Committee oversees the agency’s consumer protection role.

The FTC declined to comment.

The FTC’s Inspector General said in a report published earlier this month that the agency recruited nine unpaid experts or consultants starting late in the Trump administration and extending into President Joe Biden’s term. The report, first reported by Bloomberg News, said the practice has escalated under Khan’s leadership, raising potential legal and compliance risks.

Under federal law, unpaid consultants are barred from performing managerial work and determining policy. The FTC said it’s following recommendations laid out in the FTC’s Inspector General’s report.

(Updates with FTC declining to comment in fifth paragraph)

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