Saturday, September 20, 2014

Secret FTC Investigation of Car Dealers Who Declined Truecar Discovered by DC Reporter

FTC acknowledges auto dealer probe after discovery bust-up... Written by Harry Phillips.

The Federal Trade Commission's battle to get Ralph Paglia, a car industry blogger to hand over confidential communications, private email, subscriber lists and documents about Truecar, an online price comparison website has shed new light on the antitrust authority's ongoing and ill-advised investigation of what they claim to be potential wrongdoing among thousands of car dealers.

Harry Phillips is a reporter for "Global Competition Review" in Washington, DC. They cover antitrust news and frequently report on the Federal Trade Commission.

Mr. Phillips wrote a story last week on news that the FTC has filed a petition in Nevada Federal Court asking it to compel Ralph Paglia to provide documents and give testimony in connection with its ongoing investigation of the auto dealership industry and an alleged refusal by many car dealers to do business with in late 2011 and early 2012.


The FTC alleges that Ralph Paglia failed to provide various records and documents requested by the FTC within each of several civil investigative demands (CID subpoena). FTC states that the first CID was sent to Paglia in May 2014, and is now seeking an injunction in a Nevada Federal Court compelling Paglia to cooperate.

The big question that Harry asked Ralph was whether or not Ralph would comply, and if so, he sought Ralph's confirmation that he now planned to comply with the FTC's demand... Or alternately, would Ralph oppose the commission's demand for an injunction? He sought Paglia's comments on the petition and the FTC's investigation of Car Dealers who either cancelled participation in the TrueCar Auto Buying referral system, or never signed up in the first place.

Ralph Paglia's email reply to Harry Phillips is shown below:

"Mr. Phillips,

Thank you for reaching out, and I would like to speak with you about the matter via phone. Since the NSA and presumably the FTC is studying all emails I send despite the illegal nature of such surveillance, I would feel more comfortable speaking with you by phone.

I can tell you that I have never refused access to any information or records by the FTC, but I am not going to do their jobs for them. I believe slave labor was outlawed quite a few years ago and I am mystified about why the FTC seems to believe they can compel me into forced labor when their staff gets paid plenty to do the work themselves.

Beyond the Nazi-like zeal the FTC seems to have for compelling Americans to do work without compensation, I simply do not understand where the Federal government gets the authority to try and squash freedom of speech, freedom of the press and determine whether an individual should to do business with a particular company.

Ralph Paglia

Point of Contact: 

Harry Phillips, Senior Reporter for "Global Competition Review"

2401 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 300
Washington, DC, 20037 

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