House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) revealing an oversight investigation into their “abuse of its statutory authorities in investigating Twitter.”
According to a press statement from the committee, this new letter from Rep. Jordan presents evidence that suggests the FTC’s actions against Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk have had underlying motivations. These actions, according to Jordan, are specifically related to Musk’s acquisition of Twitter last year.
Their statement noted:
“In October 2019, Twitter self-reported a privacy issue that led to a tentative settlement agreement between Twitter and the FTC that was reached in 2021 with then-Acting Chair Slaughter. However, the FTC did not take action against Twitter until May 2022—after Khan had been designated as Chair and Musk’s acquisition became apparent. The timeline of the FTC’s actions raise significant questions, and after the Committee’s close examination of the newly revealed information, it appears that then-Acting Chair Slaughter and current Chair Khan did not intend to take action against Twitter until Elon Musk’s impending acquisition and the political pressure campaign that followed.”
Jordan wrote that on April 12, 2023, “after efforts to obtain your voluntary compliance,” the committee “issued a subpoena for documents relating to the FTC’s investigation of Twitter.” He said that the FTC claimed that they could not produce the aforementioned documents.
On May 8, 2023, Jordan noted that the committee was briefed by the FTC on the situation.
Further, “From the FTC’s briefing and subsequent letter, it appears that the FTC acted against Twitter in May 2022 as a result of Elon Musk’s (at the time potential) acquisition of the company….”
Jordan pointed out that the timeline of the FTC’s actions (or lack of action) against Twitter “raises significant questions” and there is an “unjustified approximate one-year gap in the FTC’s actions with respect to Twitter.”
He added, “A reasonable conclusion is that neither you nor Acting Chair Slaughter seriously planned to take action against Twitter until political pressure arose given Mr. Musk’s impending acquisition. The FTC’s decision to enter the May 2022 Order after Mr. Musk’s acquisition became apparent gave the FTC the power to then harass Twitter under cover of the May 2022 Order. Put simply, what the Committee has learned of the FTC’s actions reinforces the concern.”