October 4, 2022
Leading FTC Candidate Svetlana Gans Has Big Tech Ties: Insider

The leading candidate for the earliest-open regulatory slot at the Federal Trade Commission has a long history of working to advance the agenda of Big Tech, The Post has learned.

According to sources, Svetlana Gans, partner at law firm Gibson Dunn, has been quietly meeting with prominent Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell.

Gibson Dunn’s clients include Facebook, Google and Amazon. Gaines also worked with The Internet and Television Association, where he worked with major cable and telecommunications companies.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed written by Gans, he argued that the Supreme Court had legal basis for overthrowing most of the FTC’s objectives under Progressive Speaker Lena Khan.

“As the FTC advances its aggressive agenda, there is a distinct possibility that it will limit US business, not the FTC itself,” Gans wrote with Eugene ScaliaFormer Education Secretary and son of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Gans served for nearly a decade as chief of staff to Republican FTC commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, in what many saw as slow-moving regulation on Big Tech. According to Politico, Ohlhausen left the FTC in 2018 to work at Baker Bots, where she is currently representing Amazon in the FTC investigation.

Gans did not respond to a request for comment.

Leena Khan
Ultra-progressive FTC Chair Leena Khan is aiming to crack down on big tech companies.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Guns’ track record — combined with his recent op-ed — is raising eyebrows among conservatives, who are concerned that he may not mind the influence of Big Tech.

“Svetlana Gans would be an absolute disaster for Republicans who want to hold Big Tech accountable. She has a history of friendship with Big Tech, and works for a law firm that represents Facebook,” said a former Senate a judiciary aide told The Post. “Conservative groups will oppose him.”

According to insiders, Noah Phillips, one of two Republican-appointed FTC commissioners, hasn’t nominated Gans since announcing his plans to leave this fall, but he is seen as a potential pick for the FTC.

While his departure won’t change the Democratic majority, a pro-tech pick could stifle or complicate Khan’s efforts to crack down on companies like Facebook and Google.

The FTC, tasked with protecting the public from unfair business practices, consists of five members—no more than three from five regulators of the same political party at a time.

The president appoints the FTC chairman and nominates a candidate if the commissioner leaves in a majority. The minority party’s top senator, in this case McConnell, nominates a candidate if a commissioner in the minority leaves.

FTC Office in DC
Insiders say Gans has not been nominated but is seen as a possibility to replace Noah Phillips.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

A spokesperson for McConnell declined to comment.

Those with knowledge of the FTC process worry that Gans will slow or hinder the agency’s ability to regulate Big Tech.

An insider told The Post, “There are a number of ways Big Tech fans can muddy the water.” “There’s a point where she could be in the majority in the FTC and that would really hurt the agenda.”

Gans’ husband, John Gans, is also closely involved with tech companies. He previously lobbied for Apple and is now working 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 a Big Tech shill. We don’t want someone who has made a career out of promoting the biggest companies in the world,” John Schweppe, policy director for the American Principles Project, told The Post.

“We want someone who is tough, but fair — someone who will doubt Big Tech’s concentrated power and be willing to crack down on Big Tech’s anti-competitive behavior,” he said.

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