The Federal Trade Commission is being sued by an ethics watchdog for allegedly concealing facts about the probe into the national shortage of infant formula, according to a report by The Daily Caller.
According to a complaint acquired by the Washington Examiner, the FTC allegedly disregarded a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from The Functional Government Initiative in August.
The FOIA was for documents related to its inquiry into the baby formula shortfall. According to reports, the watchdog is now suing the FTC for "wrongfully withholding them."
"FGI anticipates that officials and staff at FTC discussed and participated in making and implementing decisions about the investigation into the infant formula crisis," the lawsuit reads, according to the outlet.
"The public does not have an ability to easily evaluate the decision-making surrounding FTC's investigation."
It was made public in April that a former employee of Abbott who was a tip-off wrote a 34-page complaint to the FDA in October 2021, alerting them to the plant's issues. The FDA stated in May that the complaint was misplaced in the mailroom for four months before it was reviewed.
According to FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan, the agency launched an investigation into the formula shortfall on May 24 "to uncover the circumstances that contributed to the scarcity or delayed our ability to respond to it."
According to the organization, it was looking for feedback from the public "on whether the FTC itself or state or federal agencies may have unintentionally taken steps that contributed to shaky supply chains in the market for these critical products for many American families."
FGI wants to collect documents of this announcement and correspondence about infant formula between FTC commissioners or their staff and members of Congress through its lawsuit.
The watchdog also seeks copies of any communications between FTC commissioners and outside organizations on the probe and any "analysis or debate" of statements made about infant formula.
Information made public by the Census Bureau in mid-September indicates that over one-third of American households had difficulty obtaining infant formula in the previous month.
When the poll was done, less than one week's worth of baby formula was available in almost 20% of families. The National Economic Council's director, Brian Deese, acknowledged in May that the Biden administration was aware of the looming shortfall of infant formula as early as February 2022.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) moved responsibility for the shortage to Abbott Nutrition's manufacturing facility in Michigan in a report from September.