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Wall Street Donors Are Reportedly Pushing Biden to Fire FTC Chair

The Federal Trade Commission has taken legal action against several major merger proposals under Lina Khan’s leadership.

FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan testifies during the House Judiciary Committee hearing in Rayburn Building on July 13, 2023.

Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan’s efforts to challenge corporate consolidation across the U.S. economy — from gaming to pharmaceuticals to semiconductors — have drawn vocal outrage from industry-backed Republican lawmakers and other mouthpieces for big business.

And now, according to the Financial Times, some of the Democratic Party’s Wall Street donors are privately calling on President Joe Biden to fire Khan if he wins reelection in 2024.

“Anybody talking to dealmakers over the past year or so will have noticed that barely anyone has been capable of hiding their loathing for Khan,” wrote FT’s James Fontanella-Khan. “In private, financiers accuse her of being anti-American and against business. Several Wall Street donors to the Democratic Party are using their position of influence to quietly lobby Biden to drop Khan if he gets reelected, according to people briefed on the matter. That’s how badly they want her out of the FTC.”

Wall Street spent over $74 million in support of Biden in 2020 and industry executives — at the urging of the president’s team — have hosted fundraisers this year for his reelection campaign.

Under Khan’s leadership, the FTC has taken legal action against several prominent merger proposals — including Microsoft’s $69 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, a case the agency paused after recent court defeats. The FTC has also helped rewrite pro-consolidation merger guidelines that were established during the Reagan era, launched a probe into Big Tech’s cloud computing businesses, and proposed a ban on exploitative non-compete agreements.

Additionally, as soon as this month, the FTC is expected to file a major antitrust lawsuit against the online retail behemoth Amazon, which Khan has long argued is a monopoly.

The Khan-led FTC’s proactive approach to taking on entrenched power that has worsened inequality and harmed workers has predictably angered corporate America and its GOP allies in Congress, who used a recent hearing to attack Khan as a “bully.”

Some of the Republican Party’s most outspoken critics of Khan are funded by Big Tech.

The Wall Street Journal’s right-wing editorial board has also taken on a major role in fueling the outrage, running dozens of pieces this year attacking Khan’s work.

FT’s James Fontanella-Khan argued that the widespread “animus” toward Khan in corporate America “might indicate she is having an impact despite the setbacks.”

“Khan has an egalitarian vision of competition law that seeks to improve the well-being of citizens beyond their roles as consumers,” he added. “The Amazon case will be a big test.”

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