Christine Wilson, the only Republican remaining on the Federal Trade Commission, announced her intention to quit on Tuesday, citing Democratic Chair Lina Khan’s “disregard for the rule of law and due process.”
Wilson announced her resignation, which she stated will happen “soon,” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.Throughout Khan’s term as chair of the commission, Wilson has regularly criticised her approach in public meetings and speeches.
Wilson wrote in her op-ed that she has failed “to persuade Ms. Khan and her enablers to do the right thing, and I refuse to give their endeavour any further hint of legitimacy by remaining.”
Khan, a key figure in the progressive antitrust movement, has advocated for a broader enforcement strategy that includes pursuing risky cases that have the potential to push the boundaries of current case law.This stance has earned her the ire of more conservative antitrust experts, notably Wilson.
Khan’s strategy has been fraught with danger, as illustrated most recently by the FTC’s failure in court to stop Meta’s proposed acquisition of VR fitness app maker Within Unlimited. Those who support Khan, on the other hand, claim that if regulators win all of their cases, they aren’t bringing nearly enough of them.
Wilson criticised Khan for not recusing herself from an administrative action involving the Meta-Within deal based on her prior remarks urging the business to refrain from making further acquisitions. Wilson also chastised the two other commissioners who agreed with her conclusion. After failing to get a preliminary injunction in federal court, the FTC decided to abandon the administrative case.
Wilson also criticised the significant redactions on her statement opposing Khan’s decision not to recuse herself, claiming that it contained no confidential business information and that the redactions “had no purpose other than to insulate Ms. Khan from humiliation.”
Wilson also criticises Khan’s other choices, such as the regulation attempting to abolish most noncompete provisions, which Wilson believes is beyond the agency’s power. She further said that in the absence of legislation passed by Congress to prevent mergers, Khan “does so by fiat.”
“Abuse of regulatory authority now substitutes for unfulfilled legislative desires,” Wilson wrote.
Without Wilson, the FTC will be down to three members on a five-member panel: Khan and Democrats Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Alvaro Bedoya. Former Republican Commissioner Noah Joshua Phillips resigned in October, but without the extensive criticism that Wilson penned. Phillips praised Khan in his public statement before quitting the panel, but he has previously opposed some of the tactics she has adopted.
Because of the vacancy, President Joe Biden now has the ability to propose two commissioners, although neither can be Democrats because only three commissioners from the same party can serve at the same time.
“While we often disagreed with Commissioner Wilson, we respected her devotion to her beliefs and were grateful for her public service,” Khan, Slaughter, and Bedoya wrote in a joint statement. “We wish her well in her next endeavor.”