Svetlana Gans, leading FTC candidate, has Big Tech ties: insiders

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The leading candidate for the soon-to-open regulator slot at the Federal Trade Commission has a long history of working to push Big Tech’s agenda, The Post has learned.

Svetlana Gans, a partner at law firm Gibson Dunn, has been quietly meeting with leading Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnel, about taking on the role of FTC commissioner, according to sources.

Gibson Dunn’s clients have included Facebook, Google and Amazon. Gans also had a stint with The Internet and Television Association, where she worked with major cable and telecom companies.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed penned by Gans, she argued the Supreme Court had a legal basis to strike down much of the FTC’s objectives under progressive Chair Lina Khan.

“As the FTC advances its aggressive agenda, there’s a distinct possibility it will end up restricting not American business but the FTC itself,” Gans wrote with Eugene Scalia, former Secretary of Education and the son of late Justice Antonin Scalia.

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

Gans did not respond to a request for comment.

Lina Khan, the ultra-progressive FTC chair, is aiming to crack down on Big Tech companies.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gans’ track record — combined with her recent op-ed — are raising eyebrows among conservatives who are worried she may have no qualms with Big Tech’s influence.

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

Gans has not been nominated but she is seen as the likely pick for the FTC after Noah Phillips, one of two Republican-appointed FTC commissioners, announced his plans to leave this fall, according to insiders.

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

The FTC, which is tasked with protecting the public from unfair business practices, is comprised of five members — with no more than three of the five regulators hailing from the same political party at one time.

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

FTC office in DC
Gans has not been nominated but is seen as the likely pick to replace Noah Phillips when he leaves this, insiders say.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

A spokesperson for McConnell declined to comment.

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

“There are a lot of ways that people who like Big Tech could muddy the waters,” an insider told The Post. “There’s a point where she may be in the majority at the FTC and that would really hurt the agenda.”

Gans’ husband, Jon Gans, is also closely allied 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’s made a career out of boosting the largest companies in the world,” Jon Schweppe, policy director at American Principles Project, told The Post.

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

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