Two nominees from the Republican party for the FTC are being questioned regarding their connections to a controversial legal figure.


A group advocating for women’s rights is urging senators to inquire about the connections of two important nominees to the Federal Trade Commission with a prominent conservative law professor who has been accused of sexual harassment.

Joshua Wright, himself a former Federal Trade Commission member who became a professor at George Mason University’s law school, is facing accusations of sexual harassment from at least eight women who say he pressured them to have sex with him in order to advance their careers. Wright resigned as a professor late last month and filed a $108 million defamation lawsuit against two of his accusers.

George Mason has long been considered one of the nation’s more conservative law schools and bears the name of Antonin Scalia, the right-wing Supreme Court justice who died in 2016. Its administration faces allegations it failed to properly investigate what Bloomberg News called the “open secret” of Wright’s misconduct because of his influence in conservative and libertarian legal circles, where he has been at the center of a network of scholars and corporate interests working to push back against the revolution in antitrust thinking advanced by FTC Chair Lina Khan and other progressives.

Now UltraViolet, a liberal women’s rights nonprofit, has sent a letter to Senate Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and ranking member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asking the senators to question the two Republican nominees to the commission ― Utah Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak and Virginia Solicitor General Andrew Ferguson ― about whether Wright played any role in securing their nominations.

The group is urging senators to inquire about any communication between Ferguson or Holyoak and Wright before or after their nominations. They also want to know if they were aware of Wright’s alleged misconduct before it became public in August, and if they believe George Mason University handled the situation appropriately.

Shauna Thomas, one of the founders of UltraViolet, emphasized the significance of maintaining a strict policy against sexual harassment within government organizations such as the FTC.

Two Republican nominees to the Federal Trade Commission could face questions about their ties to a conservative legal leader accused of sexual harassment by several women.
Two individuals nominated by the Republican party for the Federal Trade Commission may be questioned regarding their connections to a conservative legal figure who has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women.
MLADEN ANTONOV via Getty Images

“I cannot reword”

The five-member FTC is now controlled by supporters of Khan’s antitrust agenda, but by law the commission can have no more than three members of any one party. Traditionally, the Senate leader of the party out of power ― in this case, Mitch McConnell ― gets to pick the nominees for his party. McConnell selected Ferguson, a former aide, and Holyoak, and both are expected to largely oppose Khan’s agenda.

So far, Holyoak’s nomination has generated more opposition than Ferguson’s. A coalition of conservative groupsLiberal groups have accused her of being too closely associated with Big Tech, and she has sent a letter to Republican senators on the Commerce Committee expressing the same concern.

Later this month, the FTC is anticipated to initiate a significant legal action against Amazon, accusing them of violating antitrust laws. Additionally, the FTC is working on a regulation that aims to prohibit non-compete agreements, which limit the opportunities for former employees. This proposed regulation has faced substantial opposition from various industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.