Svetlana Gans, the FTC’s lead candidate, has Big Tech ties: insider

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The lead candidate for a soon-to-be-opened regulatory position at the Federal Trade Commission has a long history of pushing Big Tech’s agenda, The Post has learned.

Svetlana Gans, a partner at the Gibson Dunn law firm, is quietly meeting with Republican leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, about taking on the role of FTC commissioner, sources said.

Gibson Dunn’s clients include Facebook, Google and Amazon. Gans has worked with major cable and telecom companies and had a stint with the Internet and Television Association.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed written by Gans, progressive Chairwoman Lena Kahn argued that the Supreme Court has a legal basis to strike down most of the FTC’s objectives.

“As the FTC advances its aggressive agenda, there is a distinct possibility that it will restrict not American business, but the FTC itself,” Gans wrote with Eugene Scalia, son of former education secretary and Justice Antonin Scalia.

Gans worked for nearly a decade as chief of staff to Republican FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, who many see as a slow-walker in regulation of Big Tech. Ohlhausen left the FTC in 2018 to take a job at Baker Bots, where she is currently representing Amazon in the FTC investigation, according to Politico.

Gans did not respond to a request for comment.

Lina Khan
Lina Khan, the ultra-progressive chairman of the FTC, plans to attack Big Tech companies.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gans’ track record — coupled with her recent op-ed — is raising eyebrows among conservatives who worry that she should be under the influence of Big Tech.

“Svetlana Gans is an absolute disaster for Republicans who want to hold Big Tech accountable. She has a history of being friendly with Big Tech, and she works for a law firm that represents Facebook,” a former Senate Judiciary aide told the Post. “Conservative groups oppose her.”

Gans has not been appointed, but she is seen as a top choice for the FTC after Noah Phillips, one of two Republican-appointed FTC commissioners, announced plans to leave this fall.

While his departure won’t change the Democratic majority, the pro-tech election could hamper Khan’s efforts against companies like Facebook and Google.

Charged with protecting the public from unfair business practices, the FTC is made up of five members — no more than three of the five regulators are from the same political party at any one time.

The president appoints the FTC chairman and names a successor if the commissioner with a majority vote leaves. The senior senator from the minority party, in this case, McConnell will nominate a nominee if a commissioner leaves in the minority.

The FTC office in DC
Gans hasn’t been nominated, but when he does, insiders say he’s considered the pick to replace Noah Phillips.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

A spokesman for McConnell declined to comment.

Gains with knowledge of the FTC process will reduce or hinder the agency’s ability to regulate Big Tech.

One insider told the Post: “There’s a lot of ways that people who like Big Tech can squeeze the water. There’s a point where she’s going to be the majority at the FTC and that’s going to hurt the agenda.”

Gans’ husband, John Gans, is also closely associated with tech companies. He previously lobbied for Apple and now works for Microsoft at his brother’s lobbying firm, Polaris Consulting.

Noah Phillips
Noah Phillips is leaving the FTC this fall.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“We don’t want Big Tech shills. “We don’t want a professional person growing the biggest companies in the world,” John Schweppe, policy director of the American Principles Project, told the Post.

“We need someone who is tough, but fair — someone who is skeptical of Big Tech’s concentrated power and is willing to rein in Big Tech’s anti-competitive behavior,” he added.

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