Trump’s Iowa victory may derail Melissa Holyoak’s FTC bid

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By Dan Sears

Melissa Holyoak’s already troubled bid for a seat at the Federal Trade Commission may get even more complicated following Donald Trump’s big win in Iowa, sources told On The Money.

Top advisors to the former president are dead-set against her nomination moving forward, sources said — and already are starting to nudge GOP lawmakers to consider Trump’s agenda in a second term.

Trump is eyeing another major crackdown on Big Tech if he returns to the White House.

Meanwhile, Holyoak, the Republican solicitor general of Utah, has taken heat in recent months for her perceived leniency toward the sector, according to Beltway sources.

“Her background is very problematic for anyone who believes in Big Tech accountability,” one Capitol Hill insider said. “It makes sense that it would make a number of Trump-oriented Republicans skeptical.”

Under Trump, the FTC and Department of Justice Antitrust Division launched investigations into Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple.

Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell
Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell Paola Morrongiello

The FTC sued Facebook in 2020 alleging anticompetitive behavior and the DOJ sued Google for unlawfully monopolizing search. 

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Following his removal from Twitter in 2021, Trump has grown even more wary of tech companies, sources told On The Money.

Meanwhile, as The Post reported last month, newly uncovered emails showed Holyoak has maintained a friendly rapport with a Big Tech-funded think tank called the Competitive Enterprise Institute — including one executive who wrote of the FTC that “burning it to the ground is too good for it.” 

Melissa Holyoak
Melissa Holyoak, the Republican solicitor general of Utah, has taken heat in recent months for her perceived leniency toward Big Tech. Office of the Attorney General Utah

The emails showed Holyoak has exchanged legal advice on major cases — including the Apple v. Epic Games antitrust battle — with employees at the think tank, where she spent five years working as an attorney.

The emails renewed concerns among critics including the Bull Moose Project, a conservative group that had previously urged Senate Republicans to consider Holyoak’s nomination over her ties to CEI.

“These new emails show that we were right to be skeptical,” Bull Moose Project President Aidan Buzzetti said in a statement. “General Holyoak should clear the air regarding her views on Big Tech, and whether or not she supports FTC actions taken against them to protect American consumers.”

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Holyoak previously defended her record in a statement, asserting that she has “held Big Tech accountable, leading Utah’s work in lawsuits against Google, Facebook, and most recently, TikTok” as the state’s solicitor general.

Concerns among Holyoak critics also intensified due to her key role in negotiations on a controversial $700 million settlement between Google and all 50 states.

Detractors, including Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, said the terms were too soft toward the tech giant. 

Holyoak and fellow FTC nominee Andrew Ferguson — an ex-aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — both need to be voted on and approved by the full Senate before they are officially appointed.

While there’s no guarantee Holyoak’s nomination will be quashed, it wouldn’t be the first time a nomination was held until a new president was elected. 

In 2016, McConnell put former Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland’s nomination on ice in the hopes he could get a more conservative judge installed.

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McConnell’s move gave conservatives a six-seat majority on the court.

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