The Hate Triangle: Elon Musk’s Twitter, FTC Chair Linda Khan, And The House Republicans

Twitter is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), with allegations of biased enforcement practices and burdensome investigations. The company has sought to terminate an FTC order that imposed restrictions on its data security practices.

Meanwhile, FTC Chair Lina Khan faces criticism from Republicans who accuse her of mismanaging the agency and conducting a politically motivated probe into Twitter–creating a convoluted triangle in this legal kerfuffle.

Twitter filed a motion with the Northern California District Court seeking to terminate an FTC order, claiming that the agency’s investigation has become “burdensome and vexatious”. The company alleges that the FTC’s enforcement has spiraled out of control and been tainted by bias, particularly after Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. Twitter argues that the agency’s desire to depose Musk stems from bad faith and improper conduct during the investigation.

The FTC’s investigation into Twitter began before Musk’s ownership of the company. It was initiated based on a complaint from whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, alleging that Twitter violated a previous settlement with the FTC by burying serious data security deficiencies.

In 2022, the Justice Department accused Twitter of misrepresenting the security of personal data, resulting in a $150 million fine.

Twitter filed its motion to terminate the FTC order just hours before Khan’s scheduled testimony on Capitol Hill over the FTC’s ongoing investigation into Musk’s takeover of Twitter and the involvement of “Twitter Files” journalists who were granted access to internal company documents. Republicans, who have accused Khan of agency mismanagement and conducting a politically motivated investigation into Twitter, were expected to give her a hostile reception.

Khan faces hostility from Republicans, particularly during her appearance before the House Judiciary Committee. Republicans accuse Khan of pursuing an antibusiness agenda and conducting a politicized probe into Musk’s Twitter ownership. They argue that the FTC is overstepping its authority and infringing on press freedoms with its investigation.

Backed by big tech

The FTC chair’s aggressive approach to antitrust enforcement has garnered criticism from big tech companies, media outlets, and some Republicans. Khan’s efforts to challenge anti-competitive practices and block mergers have drawn opposition. Critics argue that her actions are driven by progressive social goals rather than strictly following the law.

According to the American Economic Liberties Project, the Wall Street Journal has published no less than 69 critical op-eds, editorials, or letters targeting Khan’s initiatives. These attacks have intensified ahead of a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Notably, Big Tech companies, including Alphabet and Meta, have been funding conservative advocacy groups that oppose Khan’s actions. The likes of the American Action Forum, Cato Institute, and the National Taxpayers Union Foundation have received financial support from these companies.

Furthermore, an analysis of campaign contributions reveals that Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have received a minimum of $400,000 from the political action committees (PACs) and employees of Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Microsoft. At least 11 committee members have directly received donations from the lobbyists or executives of these companies.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan has been particularly vocal in his criticism of Khan, having previously subpoenaed the FTC for documents related to Musk’s Twitter takeover. Jordan’s attacks have also extended to accusing the FTC of having political motivations behind its Twitter investigation. Throughout his career, Jordan has received substantial financial support from Big Tech companies, including $38,000 from Google’s PAC.

Rep. Darrell Issa, the committee’s second highest-ranking member, has also joined Jordan in denouncing Khan’s actions. Issa recently shared a critical Wall Street Journal op-ed on Twitter, written by a vice president of the conservative lobbying group FreedomWorks. Issa has received the highest amount of donations from Big Tech employees and company PACs among Republicans on the committee, totaling over $134,000, with significant contributions from Microsoft and Google.

Despite being critical of Big Tech censorship of conservatives, Issa has opposed the tech-focused antitrust legislation aimed at curbing the market power of companies like Facebook and Google. Similarly, Rep. Matt Gaetz has partnered with Democrats on such legislation while still accepting campaign contributions from Big Tech PACs and lobbyists.

Multiple lobbyists from Big Tech companies have made donations to various Republican Judiciary Committee members, with Meta’s Greg Maurer contributing to representatives Andy Biggs, Chip Roy, Cliff Bentz, and Darrell Issa. Apple’s Jeff Dobrozsi has donated to Jim Jordan and Andy Biggs, among others.

The influence of Big Tech extends to newly elected representatives as well. Florida Republican Rep. Laurel Lee, who joined the Judiciary Committee after serving as Florida Secretary of State, received campaign donations from Google’s PAC.

Rep. Ben Cline, who vowed to combat Big Tech abuses, received donations from Microsoft’s PAC.

Information for this briefing was found via Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, More Perfect Union, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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