Republican FCC Commissioner Won't Stand in Way of Musk Twitter Buy

A Republican serving on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has asserted that the agency has "no authority" to grant requests to block Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr on Wednesday rejected a statement issued the previous day by the Open Markets Institute, a nonprofit group that says it is dedicated to exposing "the dangers of monopolization." The group suggested that the FCC, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had "ample authority" to block Musk's acquisition.

"The FCC has no authority to block Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter, and to suggest otherwise is absurd," Carr said in a statement. "I would welcome the full FCC making it clear that we will not entertain these types of frivolous arguments."

During a Fox Business interview on Tuesday, Carr said that he was "hopeful" Musk would "bend Twitter's content moderation towards a greater embrace of free speech," while suggesting that "the hard left" had worked to limit "the free exchange of ideas."

Elon Musk Twitter FCC Republican Commissioner Statement
Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr on Wednesday said that the agency had "no authority" to block Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter. A mobile phone displaying Musk's Twitter account next to the company's logo is shown in this photo taken in Paris, France, on April 26, 2022. Chesnot/Getty

Musk's $44 billion deal was accepted by Twitter on Monday. While the purchase is subject to review by the DOJ and the FTC, the FCC's role is less clear. The Open Markets Institute suggested that the agencies could block the sale due to it creating a potential monopoly, while citing Musk's ownership of the satellite internet platform Starlink.

"The Open Markets Institute believes the deal poses a number of immediate and direct threats to American democracy and free speech," the group said in Monday's statement. "The deal would give to a single man—one who already wields immense political and economic power—direct control over one of world's most important platforms for public communications and debate."

"Musk already controls one of the most important internet platforms in the world—in the form of the satellite communications system Starlink," it continued. "Since the late 19th Century, the U.S. government has routinely acted to prevent mergers between existing essential platforms."

Carr is one of two Republican FCC commissioners appointed by former President Donald Trump, who many have speculated could return to Twitter following Musk's takeover. Trump has insisted that he will remain off the platform even if his permanent ban is lifted, with plans to use his own Truth Social platform instead.

The FCC includes five commissioners, no more than three of which may belong to the same political party.

One position is currently vacant, leaving the commission with an even partisan split as President Joe Biden's nomination of Democrat Gigi Sohn is yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

Carr's fellow Republican commissioner, Nathan Simington, was confirmed and took office during the last months of the Trump presidency.

The commission's Democratic members include Geoffrey Starks, who was appointed to fill a vacant Democratic seat by Trump, and current Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, an appointee of former President Barack Obama.

The other commissioners have yet to publicly weigh in on Musk's Twitter purchase or on suggestions that the FCC could block the sale.

Newsweek reached out to Rosenworcel, Simington and Starks for comment.