Many are struggling in this economy. My family is among them. Please support what we’re doing here and help us to continue to spread the truth Americans need to read and hear.
The Federal Trade Commission has been on the march. Over the past month, the Commission has held two “open” meetings, rescinded two major bipartisan agreements by party-line vote, and positioned itself to write regulations for the first time in decades.
In the words of a former commissioner, the current FTC is “Icarus flying without the constraints of history, economics, or law.” He predicts that its “regulatory overreach…will end with the FTC’s wings melting in the courts.”
Yet one of the most consequential expansions of Commission authority has flown largely under the radar.
Section 5 of the FTC Act tasks the Commission with preventing “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” What exactly is an unfair or deceptive act or practice? The answer has, perhaps purposely, evaded the FTC and courts for decades. Wielding Section 5 authority, the FTC has targeted all manner of industries, including health supplements, shoemakers, and even social media influencers. Recently, the Commission rescinded a bipartisan policy statement on this issue, giving American businesses even less notice as to what conduct might be considered a violation.
A central principle of American jurisprudence is that defendants are not presumed liable until a court of law determines otherwise. Correspondingly, defendants cannot be compelled to pay claimed damages until a court first finds liability.
In the Alice-in-Wonderland world of FTC investigations, legal principles were sometimes turned on their head. “Damages” were seized by the FTC long before the defendant had its day in court, and long before any finding of liability for Section 5 violations, thanks to a peculiar interpretation of another section of the FTC Act: Section 13(b).
Section 13(b), by its text, authorizes the FTC to seek temporary and permanent injunctive relief in federal court for Section 5 violations. Section 13(b) does not and has never mentioned anything about monetary damages. Yet for decades, courts looked beyond the text of the statute and held that Section 13(b) inherently empowered the FTC to seek monetary damages.
Under this extraordinary interpretation, the Commission could and did go directly to federal court and request monetary damages from accused parties. Accused parties never had the opportunity to present a defense. Sometimes the damages sought by the FTC were in excess of the total assets a defendant had, leaving it with scant resources to mount a legal defense.
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Defendants in FTC investigations faced a Hobson’s choice: negotiate a settlement with the FTC and face financial ruin; or fight the FTC in court and, even if damages were never awarded, face financial ruin.
Such was the case with Vylah Tec, a Florida start-up accused of selling “unneeded” services to its customers. Without any prior notice or administrative proceeding, the FTC sued the company for millions of dollars, alleging Section 5 violations. Prior to trial, a federal court granted the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction, freezing the assets of both the company and the owners personally, as well as transferring over $670,000 in assets into a receivership account. After the trial concluded, the court denied the FTC’s request for monetary damages. Yet after receivership and attorneys’ fees, only $34,500 was returned to the company.
Fortunately for the rule of law, these FTC abuses were recently curtailed. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court struck down the prior, atextual interpretation of Section 13(b). In doing so, it affirmed that “permanent injunction” does not mean “monetary damages,” and that, as currently written, Section 13(b) of the FTC Act does not empower the Commission to seek monetary damages for Section 5 violations.
In the wake of this decision, many criticized the Court, claiming it “ruled in favor of scam artists” and that the decision will “turn the agency into a paper tiger.”
But as the Court observed in its opinion, the FTC already has a better arsenal of administrative powers to protect consumers and seek consumer redress. Section 19 of the FTC Act already empowers the FTC to seek monetary damages for Section 5 claims. Section 19 focuses on actual harm, applying only when a reasonable person would have known under the circumstances that the conduct at issue was dishonest or fraudulent. Section 19 requires the FTC to provide actual notice to prospective defendants of their alleged illegal conduct via an administrative proceeding and issuance of a “cease and desist” order before seeking monetary damages in federal court. And perhaps most importantly, before the court may award damages, Section 19 requires the FTC to prove the defendant is liable in court.
FTC administrative hearings allow parties wrongly or mistakenly accused of wrongdoing to present exculpatory evidence. They’re a vital element of the rule of law that affords important notice and due process protections to American businesses trying to navigate the often-Kafkaesque modern administrative state. Even if the administrative hearing should reach an adverse decision, parties can appeal to a court of law.
Unfortunately, Congress may give the FTC the power to seek damages without any due process. The House recently passed H.R. 2668. The authors of this bill seek to reimplement the prior Section 13(b) regime by explicitly empowering the FTC to seek monetary damages under this section once more.
But at its core, this proposed Section 13(b) still lacks the vital requirement of proving liability in court over the defense of accused parties before seeking damages. The proposed 13(b) also has none of the procedural safeguards of Section 19.
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In lesser countries, government agencies seize property, destroy businesses, and disrupt lives without due process of law, but instead with the consent of a judiciary unwilling to check administrative excesses. America should not be one of those lesser countries; the FTC should not be one of those lawless agencies; and our judiciary should not be put in a position of awarding damages without first demanding proof of liability over the defense of accused parties.
Photo by ipse dixit on Unsplash. Article by Kirk Arner & Harold Furchtgott-Roth cross-posted from Real Clear Markets.
American Patriots Uniting to Fight Tyranny from, Well, Everywhere
We’re building a new conservative news network. Based on responses from fellow patriots, we’re heading in the right direction.
It may be hard to believe based on what we’re seeing around the nation today, but there are many reasons to be hopeful. First and foremost, the false narrative that most of America hates traditional values or the foundations of our nation are finally being proven false. Despite the best efforts of globalists and Neo-Marxists, patriotic Americans are starting to unify in droves. Meanwhile, Joe Biden can barely muster a half-filled auditorium to deliver his message to the scant few watching CNN and the paid shills in the “crowd.”
The “silent majority” that drove Donald Trump to victory in 2016 and 2020 (yes, he won by a landslide but was robbed along with the American people) is finally starting to realize we cannot stay silent any longer. We used to win with our votes, but those are being stolen. We used to win with truth, but the radical left and their agents in mainstream media, Big Tech, and academia are building a post-truth society to drown out reality. Today, we are waking up to the realization that only through direct action and fearlessly spreading the truth can we overcome the nefarious forces working against us.
We are proud to be working our way up to the tip of the conservative media spear. Our network is growing. We’re establishing strong partnerships with like-minded news outlets and courageous journalists. Even as Big Tech suppresses us, the honest messages they’re trying to quash are finding their way to the eyes and ears of patriots across the nation. With the help of new content partners like The Epoch Times and The Liberty Daily, we’re starting to see a real impact.
Our network is currently comprised of nine sites:
- NOQ Report
- Conservative Playlist
- Truth. Based. Media.
- Freedom First Network
- Based Underground
- Uncanceled News
- American Conservative Movement
- Conservative Playbook
- Our Gold Guy
Some of our content is spread across all of these sites. Other pieces of content are unique. We write most of what we post but we also draw from those willing to allow us to share their quality articles, videos, and podcasts. We collect the best content from fellow conservative sites that give us permission to republish them. We’re not ego-driven; I’d much rather post a properly attributed story written by experts like Dr. Joseph Mercola or Natural News than rewrite it like so many outlets like to do. We’re not here to take credit. We’re here to spread the truth.
The slow and steady reopening of America is revealing there was a lot more economic hardship brought about from the Covd-19 lockdowns than most realize. While we continue to hope advertising dollars on the sites go up, it’s simply not enough to do things the right way. We are currently experiencing a gap between revenue and expenses that cannot be overcome by click-ads and MyPillow promos alone (promo code “NOQ” by the way).
To overcome our revenue gap and keep these sites running, our needs fluctuate between $2200-$7800 per month. May, 2021, for example, was amazing and we almost broke even. June, revenue was sluggish at best and we had to make up a big difference out of our pockets. But we’re not just trying to get out of the red. If and when we start getting enough contributions to expand, we will do just that. Very few get into journalism to try to get rich and we’re definitely not among those who do. Our success is driven by spreading the truth, profitable or not.
The best way you can help us grow and continue to bring proper news and opinions to the people is by donating. We appreciate everything, whether a dollar or $10,000. Anything brings us closer to a point of stability when we can hire writers, editors, and support staff to make the America First message louder. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal or Bitcoin as well. Bitcoin: 3A1ELVhGgrwrypwTJhPwnaTVGmuqyQrMB8
Time is short. As the world spirals towards radical progressivism, the need for truthful journalism has never been greater. But in these times, we need as many conservative media voices as possible. Please help keep NOQ Report and the other sites in the network going. Our promise is this: We will never sell out America. If that means we’re going to struggle for a while or even indefinitely, so be it. Integrity first. Truth first. America first.
Thank you and God Bless,
Yes, We Need Your Help
I hate being “that guy” who asks people to donate because I think our conservative news network is so crucial, but here I am…
When I left my cushy corporate job in 2017, I did so knowing that my family would have to make sacrifices. But I couldn’t continue to watch the nation slip into oblivion and was inspired by President Trump’s willingness to fight the good fight even at his own personal expense. What I didn’t realize then is that conservative media would be so heavily attacked, canceled, and defunded that the sacrifices would be extreme.
Many in this nation are struggling right now even though we weren’t struggling just a few years ago. I’m not alone. But I wake up every morning and operate the sites we’ve been able to build because there’s really no other choice. I refuse to be beholden to Big Tech like so many other conservative news outlets, which is why you won’t see Google ads here. With that said, it’s often challenging to pay the bills and it’s even harder to expand so we can get the America First message out to a wider audience.
The economic downturn has forced me to make a plea for help. Between cancel culture, lockdowns, and diminishing ad revenue, we need financial assistance in order to continue to spread the truth. We ask all who have the means, please donate through our new GiveSendGo. Your generosity is what keeps these sites running and allows us to expand our reach so the truth can get to the masses. We’ve had great success in growing but we know we can do more with your assistance.
We currently operate:
- NOQ Report
- Conservative Playlist
- Uncanceled News
- Based Underground
- Truth Based Media
- Five other conservative news sites
I would even be willing to entertain investments and partnerships at this stage. I’ve turned them down in the past because editorial purity is extremely important. I’ll turn them down again if anyone wants us to start supporting RINOs or avoid “taboo” topics like voter fraud, vaccines, or transgender supremacy. But I’d talk to fellow America First patriots who want to help any (or all) of our 10 news sites. Hit me up at jdrucker (at) substack (dot) com if you’re interested.
For those who have the means and just want to help keep the mission of spreading a conservative, Christian message to the nation, please consider a generous donation.