Billionaire Koch-Backed Group Sues FTC Over Antitrust Enforcement
(Bloomberg) -- A nonprofit backed by billionaire Charles Koch sued the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to obtain documents related to a series of policy changes that have been criticized by the country’s biggest business lobbying group as an attack on American companies.
The Americans for Prosperity Foundation filed a complaint on Wednesday in federal court in Washington seeking an order requiring the FTC to produce records in response to a Freedom of Information Act request the group filed with the agency.
“The FTC’s aggressive agenda on antitrust enforcement is out of step with mainstream legal thinking and is best regarded as anti-consumer, anti-innovation, and harmful to economic growth and prosperity,” it said.
The policy moves instituted by FTC Chair Lina Khan have drawn fire from Republicans in Congress and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which last month accused the FTC of “going rogue and engaging in regulatory overreach” that threatens economic growth. The chamber also filed information requests to the agency.
The FTC declined to comment on the lawsuit.
After being named chair by President Joe Biden in June, Khan and her fellow Democrats on the five-member commission withdrew a 2015 competition policy that Khan said hampered the agency’s authority in antitrust enforcement. They also withdrew guidelines approved during the Trump administration for how the agency would analyze mergers involving companies that don’t compete directly.
The FTC, citing a merger boom that is straining the agency’s resources, also has been warning companies that close deals that their transactions could be challenged in the future even after complying with a statutory waiting period. The move threatens to chill mergers, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation said in the complaint.
“The FTC seeks to chill or slow mergers by threatening to challenge consummated mergers -- perhaps even in retaliation against companies that have the temerity to exercise their legal rights,” it said.
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