A pair of Republicans who are front runners to fill vacancies at the Federal Trade Commission lack experience when it comes to antitrust — the key issue the powerful panel has been tackling under controversial Chair Lina Khan, On The Money has learned.
Andrew Ferguson, currently solicitor general of Virginia and previously chief counsel to US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), is expected to be a nominee, sources told The Post. Another likely name is Melissa Holyoak, solicitor general of Utah and a longtime litigator.
Ferguson and Holyoak’s nominations are seen as likely after Commissioner Christine Wilson — whose bombshell op-ed in the Wall Street Journal raised concerns over whether Khan has been following the law with her fierce clampdowns on tech companies — is preparing to exit at the end of the month.
That will create a second vacancy following Republican Noah Phillips’ exit last year.
While Ferguson and Holyoak are both respected legal eagles, some DC insiders fret that Sen. McConnell – who is responsible for submitting nominees to the White House – appears to have shied away from candidates who can go head-to-head with Khan on antitrust.
“Melissa and Andrew are very smart but Lina Khan will run circles around them on antitrust,” said one source with knowledge of the decision. “With these nominations, Republicans will lose the opportunity to contribute to antitrust and write effective dissents.”
“The most charitable explanation is that it’s a coincidence. But it raises the issue of whether McConnell thinks it’s an issue,” the source adds. “This tips their hand as to what their approach is — pushing back on everything as opposed to charting a course on how conservatives should think about antitrust and Big Tech.”
A representative from McConnell’s office did not respond to request for comment; The FTC did not respond to a request for comment.
McConnell’s office interviewed candidates including James Lloyd, an associate deputy attorney general in Texas; Svetlana Gans, a partner at Gibson Dunn; Olivia Trusty, policy director for the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; Tyler Grimm, chief counsel for policy and strategy for the House Judiciary Committee; and Mark Meador, deputy chief counsel for antitrust and competition to Sen. Mike Lee.