(Bloomberg) — Republicans leading two powerful House committees are accusing Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan of giving “misleading testimony” before Congress in April over her participation in the agency’s Meta Platforms Inc. probe.
The allegation was made Wednesday, ahead of Khan’s next scheduled congressional testimony in July, escalating existing investigations into Khan’s leadership of the FTC.
In a letter to Khan on Wednesday, House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, of Ohio, and Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, of Washington, said Khan’s testimony about her decision not to recuse the Meta investigation amounted to an “ethical failure.”
They cited a Bloomberg News report that revealed Khan declined to recuse herself despite the advice of the agency’s top ethics official. The FTC’s designated agency ethics official, known as the Designated Agency Ethics Official or DAEO, recommended that Khan remove herself from the case to avoid the appearance of bias, but left it up to Khan to decide.
During an April hearing, McMorris-Rodgers asked Khan if there were instances in which she had not followed the DAEO’s advice. “No,” Khan said. “I have consulted with the DAEO and have taken actions that are consistent with the legal statements the DAEO has made.”
Jordan and McMorris-Rodgers, who have spent months hammering Khan and investigating her agency’s actions, wrote that Khan had “omitted an important recommendation by the DAEO.” They asked Khan to give the committees documents and communications related to the ethics memo.
The FTC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jordan in a separate letter sent on Wednesday requested testimony about the FTC’s “programs and operations” from 23 FTC employees. He asked Khan to make the individuals “available for transcribed interviews” with the House Judiciary Committee.
Among those Jordan requested interviews with are: associate general counsel for ethics Lorielle Pankey, who wrote an initial memo suggesting Khan recuse herself from the Meta case; deputy general counsel Elizabeth Tucci, who advised Khan that she likely did not need to recuse; and James Kohm, associate director of enforcement, who has been deeply involved in the FTC’s probes into Meta and Twitter Inc.
The panel wants to speak to the employees, all of whom are career staff members and not political appointees, about Khan’s management, ethics or the agency’s refusal to turn over documents in response to previous requests by the committee, according to a House staffer who asked to speak anonymously to discuss the panel’s plans.
Earlier this month, the panel blasted Khan’s FTC for declining to turn over documents related to an agency probe into whether Twitter under its new owner, Elon Musk, is complying with a 2022 consent decree.
The House Oversight Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee and Judiciary Committee have all announced separate investigations into Khan’s leadership at the FTC. The Republicans have accused Khan of amassing too much power, while Khan and her allies have insisted she is reawakening the agency’s long-dormant authority to curb harmful business practices across the US economy.