Lone GOP FTC Commissioner Christine Wilson to Resign

Republican Federal Trade Commissioner Christine Wilson
FTC member Christine Wilson (Image credit: Federal Trade Commission)

The Federal Trade Commission's only Republican commissioner, Christine Wilson, is resigning “soon,” but has said it is not over policy differences with chair Lina Khan, but instead over what she said was Khan’s “disregard for the rule of law’ and the staff Wilson said are enablers of that conduct.

Wilson took to the pages of The Wall Street Journal to say that the chair’s actions made it impossible for her to continue to be part of the agency.

“I have failed repeatedly to persuade Ms. Khan and her enablers to do the right thing, and I refuse to give their endeavor any further hint of legitimacy by remaining,“ she wrote. ”Accordingly, I will soon resign as an FTC commissioner.”

Wilson indicated that she and her staff had been on something of a mission to ”uncover“ Khan‘s abuses of power, spending "countless hours" on that endeavor, adding that her attempts to provide greater transparency at the agency has been hampered by “manufactured” constraints imposed by Khan and the Democratic commissioners.

The FTC has some oversight of internet service providers’ privacy efforts and a lot of oversight of claims communications companies make in their advertising and of communications mergers, which it vets along with the Justice Department.

Randolph May, president of the Free State Foundation, a free market-oriented think tank, said Wilson’s portrayal of a disfunctional FTC was disturbing. ”Obviously, the preexisting longstanding norms of collegiality and bipartisan cooperation, have completely broken down under Lina Khan’s chairmanship to the long-term detriment of the agency, assuming it can right itself.

“As she put in in the Wall Street Journal op-ed explaining her resignation, Commissioner Christine Wilson’s reached the point where she believed that a ’noisy exit’ was preferable to remaining,“ May wrote. “She acknowledged that elections have consequences and that she understood her own policy preferences likely wouldn’t prevail. But it is clear that Commissioner Wilson, to her mind, considered the problem with remaining not to be primarily differences of policy, but of process —  differences of process that led to abuse of power and lawlessness at the agency.”

Wilson was a 2018 appointee of former President Donald Trump. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.