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June 17, 2020
“Career” Trade Reps Solicit USMCA Consulting Gigs from Auto Industry
Jason Bernstein and Fred Fischer, both Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representatives, reached out to auto industry representatives offering to “assist companies directly with their USMCA implementation needs,” according to Bloomberg’s report. The report did not confirm whether Bernstein and Fischer asked for or received clearance to contact the auto companies, while ethics experts speculate that offering such services while still employed by the government might breach federal ethics requirements.
June 04, 2020
Another BigLaw Alum Ascends at the FTC
In late May, the Federal Trade Commission promoted Patty McDermott to Deputy Assistant Director of the Anticompetitive Practices (ACP) division. The ACP division’s work “involves not only stopping illegal conduct but also shaping the law,” making McDermott’s new position one of interest to corporations overseen by the FTC, beyond run-of-the-mill enforcement.
May 28, 2020
The Top Revolving Door Jobs for Ex-FTC Lawyers and Economists
The Revolving Door Project’s investigation shows that corporate gigs continue to be the most popular positions for FTC lawyers to take after leaving their posts, and reveals the regularity with which economists and analysts revolve to economic consulting firms that serve corporate interests.
May 14, 2020
Bezos Conveniently Ignores Congress’s Call to the Hot Seat
In late April, Amazon caught heat from members of the House Judiciary Committee for seemingly lying about the company’s use of data on third party vendors selling in Amazon’s marketplace. Contradicting Amazon in-house counsel (and former DOJ Antitrust official) Nate Sutton’s sworn testimony on the subject in July of 2019, the Wall Street Journal broke the story on April 23rd that Amazon is using proprietary information generated for third-party sellers on the platform to develop its house-brand products.
May 11, 2020
International Antitrust Response to Coronavirus
The Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act would preemptively stop harmful mergers that not only affect American consumers, but economies all over the world that rely on the same global supply chains. Undoubtedly, companies looking to acquire struggling businesses during the pandemic will try to take advantage of the “failing firm” argument to justify acquisitions. But what actions have lawmakers and antitrust enforcement officials in other countries undertaken to prevent predatory mergers while businesses struggle?
April 29, 2020
Amazon Won’t Play Fair In Commerce Or Congress
Last week, the Wall Street Journal revealed that contrary to stated company policies, Amazon looks at proprietary information generated for third-party sellers on the platform when developing its house-brand offerings. Cases described to the Journal include Amazon engineers peeking at the total sales, profit margins, and shipping costs for a popular third-party car trunk organizer which sells on Amazon Marketplace. Amazon later used that data to help design its own, rival product. Third-party sellers have long believed that Amazon wasn’t looking at this information because…Amazon said it wasn’t looking at this information. Instead, the tech giant’s control of both the Marketplace and its own house brands grants it an anti-competitive advantage over smaller sellers who depend on Amazon’s marketplace to survive. They can’t check all of their competitors’ stats on a whim to figure out how to drive them out of business.
April 14, 2020
Facebook Picks Up Senior FTC Official To Undermine Her Former Employees
The Covid-19 pandemic is creating ripe conditions for corporate acquisition sprees by industry giants. But at least one company, already under the microscope, isn’t just looking to pick off competitors. Facebook has its eyes on the supposed cops on this beat, the antitrust enforcement officials ready to jump ship.
April 02, 2020 | The American Prospect
The Men and Women Who Shrank the U.S. Ventilator Supply
This week, we learned that America squandered the opportunity to avoid an imminent critical shortage of lifesaving ventilators, and horrifying medical triage, amid surging COVID-19 cases in New York City, New Orleans, and elsewhere. The New York Times reported that a 2012 merger overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) foiled public-health officials’ push to replenish the nation’s ventilator supply.
February 27, 2020
Biden and Buttigieg See Pharma Money As The Cure For Campaign Woes
HHS secretary Alex Azar refused to guarantee a coronavirus vaccine would be affordable to all during Congressional testimony on Wednesday. The outrage reminded Americans why they are sick and tired of the unchecked pharmaceutical industry’s abuses. As we wrote for the American Prospect, Azar is a former pharma lobbyist who, like the rest of President Trump’s coronavirus response team, has no background in public health or research.
February 27, 2020 | The American Prospect
The Trump Administration’s Contemptuous, Pro-Corporate Response to Coronavirus
The COVID-19 coronavirus is nearly a global pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control’s latest statement warns Americans “to prepare, in the expectation that this could be bad.” Amid a global crisis like this, the public needs true leadership from the president and his top aides, and a highly competent government deserving of the people’s trust, with the capacity to effectively respond to incoming threats.But this is the Trump administration. So instead, we are being asked to put our faith in inexperienced political cronies, servicing the needs of corporations rather than the public, and contemptuous of science, scientists, and the idea of expertise.
February 21, 2020
Biden Corporate Loyalists Unite Around Super PAC
Joe Biden’s campaign is hurting for cash and increasingly reliant on the pro- Biden super PAC, Unite the Country, for help. Unite the Country is spending big in early states — the super PAC threw over $5.5 million into Iowa and is now expanding into South Carolina. But the Unite the Country donors swooping in to save Biden’s messaging efforts build on the super PAC’s established base of corporate lobbyists and consultants. Unite the Country recently picked up new supporters from private equity, venture capital, real estate, and other sectors that may be looking for favorable policies or to influence strategic appointments.
January 29, 2020
Dem Prez Candidates Fundraising from Union-Busting Lawyers
The Iron Workers Union endorsed Joe Biden last week, citing his dedication to “defend rights and jobs of American workers”, and calling him “a friend to union ironworkers”. The union endorsement marks one of many that Democratic candidates are fighting for by unveiling detailed labor plans and promising to overturn “right-to work laws” that weaken unions. While they seek union endorsements, several of the candidates are also seeking direct contributions from wealthy individuals. And therein lies a largely hidden tension.