Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is hiring a new chief counsel — and he’s picking someone with antirust chops and progressive bona fides from the office of Sen. Elizabeth Warren to fill the role.
Evan Turnage — who has been senior counsel for Warren with a focus on competition policy — is set to join Schumer’s office later this week, Turnage confirmed on Wednesday.
While Turnage’s new remit will be much broader than competition issues, the hire may help ease progressive concerns over the Senate’s failure to pass most of a package of antitrust reforms targeted at Google, Apple, Meta and Amazon. That anger has largely been directed at Schumer who last year made promises to hold a vote on the bills, but never did.
A spokesperson for Schumer declined to comment.
Prior to his work for Warren, Turnage was an associate practicing antitrust law at Kirkland & Ellis. He was also in the 2017 Yale Law School graduating class alongside Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan.
At the center of the controversy last year over the tech legislation was the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (S. 2992). Sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the bill was the most serious attempt at tightening oversight of the tech industry in years. It would bar the largest tech companies from prioritizing their products over their competitors who rely on those companies to reach customers.
Amazon, for example, would be barred from promoting its own private-label products over rival items on its e-commerce platform.
It passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan 16-6 vote, and its supporters maintained that it would have passed on the floor if given the opportunity.
Other failed antitrust bills targeting the tech sector include the Open App Markets Act, (S. 2710), which would force Apple and Google to allow third-party payment providers for in-app purchases and third-party app stores on their mobile devices (Google already allows this), and the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (S. 673) which would allow news organizations to collectively bargain with Google and Facebook over online advertising rates are also possibilities.
Warren has voiced support for all three bills, and in a speech last month mentioned all of them by name. “Those bipartisan antitrust bills should be law today. And they would be law today IF they had gotten votes on the floor of the Senate and the House. But there was never a vote on those bills. It was a mistake we cannot afford to repeat,” Warren said, without mentioning Schumer specifically.
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