FTC Refuses to Release Records on Price Gouging Investigation

As gas prices continue to rise, FGI files lawsuit against FTC’s investigation into oil and gas industry

June 6, 2022

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced litigation against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for violating transparency obligations surrounding the announcement of a possible price gouging investigation into the oil and gas industry.

In November 2021, with gas prices and inflation already well on the rise, President Biden asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate possible illegal profiteering or price gouging by the oil and gas firms. The administration has repeatedly responded to crises by calling on the FTC to conduct investigations into related private sector entities. Among the first was the meat packing industry, followed by oil and gas, and most recently the baby formula industry amid the ongoing crisis with that staple. FTC investigations have been the administration’s go-to play in these situations.

FGI began looking into this possible FTC investigation in early January of this year, seeking to discover the conversations and facts regarding the probe. In March, our request for documents was denied. The FTC asserted that every record was part of a deliberative and pre-decisional process. After FGI’s successful appeal of this decision however, the FTC has continued to deny FGI access to these records.

Peter McGinnis, spokesman for FGI, issued the following statement:

“Prices at the pump are at their highest level ever, even before the summer driving season, and the expectation is that there’s no end in sight. The government has continued to point fingers while dismissing any hint that its policies may have contributed to the crisis. If the government really is using its resources to investigate and punish energy producers rather than incentivize them to ease Americans’ pain at the pump, the public deserves to know.”