Sen. Cruz Demands Answers from FTC Chair Lina Khan Over Toxic Culture at Agency

June 22, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) this week sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Lina Khan regarding the troubling drop in employee morale at the agency. Recent data from worker surveys show a decline in respect for the agency’s leadership and an uptick in agency employee departures.

Sen. Cruz wrote:

“As a former Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) Director of the Office of Policy Planning, I am troubled by recent reports regarding FTC employees’ sinking morale and deepening lack of confidence in FTC leadership. Despite your promises to address the situation, the problem appears to be worsening. I therefore write to inform you and FTC employees that the minority staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (“Committee”) is opening an investigation into allegations of mismanagement of the agency and mistreatment of staffers. The data alone is disheartening.

“According to the 2022 Office of Personnel Management Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, which was released in January 2023, less than half (49 percent) of FTC employees agreed that FTC “leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity.” That number is four points lower than it was in the 2021 survey and 38 points lower than it was in 2020—when 87 percent of FTC employees believed that the agency’s leaders “maintain[ed] high standards of honesty and integrity. Moreover, just 44 percent of FTC employees surveyed in 2022 said that they have “a high level of respect” for the FTC’s senior leaders.  Across the board, the data tells the same story: In 2022, 40 percent of employees strongly agreed that the FTC “is successful at accomplishing its mission,” down 24 percent from 2020. In 2022, just 62 percent of employees said they were satisfied with the FTC, compared to 85 percent in 2020.


Some have offered possible explanations for the plunge in morale. One possibility is the FTC’s recent insistence of investigating every merger application, without prioritizing those that are likely to harm consumers, has unnecessarily “maxed out staff.” Another is the reported general “fear of reprisals and pressure for ideological loyalty.” Still others posit that “there is a lack of managerial experience and expertise at the top.” Whatever the reason, the FTC cannot accomplish its mission to “protect[] the public from deceptive or unfair business practices and from unfair methods of competition” with a demoralized and depleted staff. In order to understand the causes of the deepening dissatisfaction among FTC employees, please provide written responses and responsive documents to the initial requests listed below no later than June 28, 2023.”

Sen. Cruz has asked a number of questions and requested information regarding the specifics of agency departures, actions the Chairwoman’s office have taken to improve morale, and record of any complaints from FTC employees.

Sen. Cruz also requested that Chairwoman Khan share the letter with FTC employees and is encouraging FTC employees to report their concerns or 202-224-5115.

The full text of the letter is available HERE.