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Washington Leak – Justice Department Prepares Major Antitrust Investigation

June 3rd, 2019 Comments off

 

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According to Rueter’s and Yahoo Finance, “The U.S. Justice Department is preparing an investigation of Alphabet Inc’s Google to determine whether the tech giant broke antitrust law in operating its sprawling online businesses, two sources familiar with the matter said.”

 

Officials from the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and Federal Trade Commission, which both enforce antitrust law, met in recent weeks to give Justice jurisdiction over Google,” according to those sources, and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) which broke the story.

This word from Washington, D.C. will fuel speculation that Berkshire Hathaway brands, along with other tech giants that impact manufactured housing and the nation, will soon become more visible targets of antitrust regulatory scrutiny. Those who’ve relied on the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and their industry trade mouthpieces would have had no clue that this has been brewing for years. Meanwhile, MHProNews has been covering this developing topic from several angles for years. Our sister site has been laying the foundation for understanding on MHLivingNews too, in reports like the one linked below.

 

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In a series of direct quotes in context, a document from 21st Mortgage signed by Tim Williams, and video recorded comments by Kevin Clayton, these all line up to demonstrate how independent retailers, communities, and producers – among others – where purportedly harmed by action that could be deemed an antitrust violation. MHProNews has given these firms an opportunity to refute or clarify the issues and concerns raised.  They and MHI have all declined responses. https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/bridging-gap-affordable-housing-solution-yields-higher-pay-more-wealth-but-corrupt-rigged-billionaires-moat-is-barrier/

 

Pivoting back to the Google-specific matter, this could be welcome news for manufactured housing industry professionals for several reasons.

Google declined comment initially, but DOJ would not confirm or deny the claim of an antitrust investigation. It’s worth noting that the European Union (EU) has fined Google billions for prior antitrust concerns.

During the Obama Administration, there was DOJ and FTC pressure on Google, but it went nowhere substantially. In April, 2016, the left-of-center news source – the Intercept – reported that “the Google lobbyist with the most White House visits, Johanna Shelton, visited 128 times, far more” than others. The Obama Administration and the tech giants – including Google – had a cozy relationship, by several mainstream media accounts.=

Lawmakers have complained about alleged political bias, its plans in China, and more.

 

“For the Good of Consumers and Competition”

TripAdvisor remains concerned about Google’s practices in the United States, the EU and throughout the world,” TripAdvisor chief executive and co-founder Stephen Kaufer said in a statement, adding: “For the good of consumers and competition on the internet, we welcome any renewed interest by U.S. regulators into Google’s anticompetitive behavior.” Note to first time visitors, MHProNews often takes direct quotes and turns them bold and brown to make them pop, but otherwise the content is as stated.

This is very big news, and overdue,” Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican Google critic, said on Twitter with respect to this investigation.  In that, he joined President Donald J. Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, who said that Google is a threat to democracy.

 

Brad Says POTUS Trump is Right: More than Facebook & Twitter, Google Threatens Democracy, Online Freedom

 

This has become an increasingly bi-partisan issue, as what follows will reflect. While MHI devotees fly into Washington, D.C. today, will this even be a topic, unless a brave member raises the relevant questions?

 

The Broader Antitrust Picture and Manufactured Housing

As MHProNews has previously reported, several Democratic lawmakers and 2020 presidential hopeful candidates have made antitrust part of their platform.  Among the most visible to date has been Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA-D), who has renounced any corporate contributions in favor of individual donors.  Perhaps of more import to manufactured housing industry firms, Warren has sent off a round of formal letters of inquiry to manufactured home community operators. See that MHProNews exclusive report, linked here.

Even more specifically, Democratic Senators have asked the CFPB to take steps to curb allegations of predatory behavior by Clayton Homes and their lenders, see that recent report, linked here.

Senator Cory Booker (NJ-D) threw down an antitrust gauntlet with ABC News, in a video and report posted below.

 

Senator Cory Booker – ‘We Need a President…to Enforce Antitrust Laws,’ Digging Warren, POTUS Trump

 

Daily Business News on MHProNews reported in 2018 that the Trump Administration had prepared an antitrust executive order.

 

Draft EO for Trump Administration AntiTrust Order Obtained by MHProNews

 

This trade media platform also reported Democratic steps taken, such as the one below.

 

Lina Khan, AntiTrust Legal Queen, Set to Join Democratic Staff, FAANG & BM, Beware – Plus MH Market Updates

 

Sources have told MHProNews that Berkshire Hathaway has ‘beefed up’ its antitrust legal team, perhaps in anticipation of just such an expected move. That may also explain why Berkshire’s industry players who have allegedly been involved in allegations of antitrust and other potentially corrupt practices have remained silent when asked about this topic.

 

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Learn more at this link here, here, and here.

MHProNews will continue to monitor this developing issue. Antitrust is likely to be a significant part of the 2020 debate.  Consolidation and monopolization is a concern across numerous industries, and manufactured housing is one of them. To learn more about this topic which is expected to expand to other giant firms, click the links above, or further below the byline and notices.

That’s this Monday morning’s first look at “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

 

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Related Reports:

Andy Gedo, Partner at ManageAmerica, Raises Clayton Homes Monopolistic Practices Debate; Manufactured Housing Institute Related Issues

 

Restraint of Trade, Manufactured Housing Institute, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, Vanderbilt Mortgage, and Antitrust Law

Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg Discusses Antitrust Breaking Up, What Kevin Clayton, Joe Stegmayer, MHI Can Learn, plus Manufactured Home Market Updates

 

“November Rain” – DoJ’s Top Antitrust Cop – Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim ABA Speech on Antitrust Enforcement for Americans

Warren Buffett’s Profitable Lessons for Manufactured Housing

Does Monopoly Power Impact Workers’ Stagnant Wages? MH Industry Impact$

Prosperity Now, Nonprofits Sustain John Oliver’s “Mobile Homes” Video in Their Reports

Shocking, True State of the Manufactured Housing Industry, plus Solutions for Profitable, Sustainable Growth – May 2019

“Monopoly” in Manufactured Housing Alleged by George Allen, MHI Defender’s Turn by former Community-Investor, Self-Claimed EducateMHC Blogger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Recap-Manufactured Housing Industry News Sept. 20-Sept. 27, 2015

September 27th, 2015 Comments off

mhpronews_sunday_morningWhat’s New in public focused Manufactured HomeLivingNews.com

The Kennedy – Model Home Video Tour – New Durham Estates, Westville, IN

Jack and Betsy Norman, Whispering Pines 55+ Manufactured Home Community, Somerset, PA

What’s New in Manufactured Housing Industry Professional News

Justice Dept. settles two MHC discrimination suits. Judge clears path for MH subdivision in MT. Debt reduced at RV/MH Hall. 3D home built in Italy; 3D home and car displayed in TN. More MH sought in BC, Canada. Carlyle adds to MH portfolio. MH finance vet Marty Lavin weighs in on MH lending, CFPB regulations. London garners mod ideas to address housing shortage. MH biz in news: UFPI, Sun, Cavco. MH to house survivors in CA, WY. Household formation increasing to 15M+. Much more MH news and views to grace your Sunday morning latte.

Saturday, Sept. 26

Judge Orders Approval of Contested Factory-built Subdivision, Awards $650,000

Friday, Sept. 25

$54,000 Raised Towards Eliminating RV/MH Hall Debt

Modular Housing in Italy, U. S., Look Nefarious from Air

MHCV Slips, Cavco Gains, Dow Moves Up

Production Errors on Manufactured Homes Being Investigated

MBA Report: Household Formation may Rise to Nearly 16 million by 2024

New Home Sales Rise in August, but Fed Head Concerned

Thursday, Sept. 24

Mortgage Applications Rise

UFPI has Bright Future, but Short Term Risks

MHCV Edges Up, Dow Slips, Home Sales Rise

3D Printed Home and Car can Share Energy

Manufactured Homes may House Fire Victims

Dublin’s Archdiocese Supports Modular Housing

Wednesday, Sept. 23

FEMA Provides Manufactured Homes to Flood-damaged Wyoming Town

Stocks Relatively Quiet, but MHCV Outperforms Dow, Nasdaq and S&P, Gains +0.29%

More Manufactured Home Community Development Sought in BC

Justice Strikes Again – another Manufactured Home Operation Settles Case

Sales of Pre-owned Homes Fell in August

Tuesday, Sept. 22

Carlyle Expands Manufactured Home Community Portfolio

Only one Covered MH-related Stock Rises; VW Shocks the World

Large Italian 3D Printer Prints Houses

Factory-built Structures will Provide Offices and Storage for Pipeline Build

Marty Lavin, JD – Dodd-Frank, CFPB Manufactured Home Regulations Impact on Owners, Businesses

London Receives 200 Innovative Proposals to Address Housing Shortage

Monday, Sept. 21

Another NC County Funded to Demolish Abandoned Manufactured Homes

Patrick Drops Sharply; UMH Gains Smartly

Justice Department Obtains Settlement against MHC

Cavco Industries, Sun Communities Shine on Wall St.

Former Lawmaker who Swindled Modular Home Buyers to Remain in Prison

Sunday Morning Recap-Manufactured Housing Industry News Sept. 13-Sept. 20, 2015 ##

(Photo credit: MHProNews)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.

Justice Department Obtains Settlement against MHC

September 21st, 2015 Comments off

Dept_of_justice_seal_their_creditThe U. S. Department of Justice tells MHProNews it has reached an agreement to settle allegations of race and familial status discrimination against the owners and managers of Four Seasons Estates Mobile Home Park in Effingham, Illinois. While the consent order must still be approved by the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Illinois, it requires Four Seasons to pay $217,500 to the victims of discrimination for the harm they suffered, and $34,000 as a civil penalty to the federal government.

The lawsuit stemmed from allegations the community’s manager, Barbara Crubaugh, refused to allow an African-American man move in to Four Seasons to join his white girlfriend and her uncle, and that while he was staying there, he was harassed by the manager’s son, David Crubaugh. After being threatened with eviction if the boyfriend did not leave, the family moved out and contacted HOPE Fair Housing Center, an advocate of equal opportunity in housing in Illinois, which in turn contacted the Justice Dept.

Justice subsequently conducted a Fair Housing Testing Program on Four Seasons.  As MHProNews reported in a story Feb. 7, 2014 on the 126 home site community, the testing revealed discriminatory application treatment based on race, including higher move-in costs for African-Americans. Moreover, the community management admitted to the allegation that they prohibited families with children from living on one of the four rows of homesites, which is considered familial status discrimination.

There had been no African-American residents living in the community since at least 2007 when Barbara Crubaugh became manager.

In addition to the monetary damages, the consent order requires Four Seasons to implement a nondiscrimination policy, institute new nondiscriminatory application and rental procedures and undergo training on the Fair Housing Act.

Individuals and families looking for decent affordable housing shouldn’t be treated differently just because of their race or because they have children,” said Assistant Secretary Gustavo Velasquez of HUD. “It unfairly limits their housing options and it violates the law. We will continue to work with our fair housing partners and the Justice Department to ensure that property owners and managers meet their obligation to comply with the requirements of the Fair Housing Act.

Frank Bowman, the Illinois Manufactured Housing Association’s (IMHA) Executive Director, says the community in question is “not an IMHA member.

There are far more issues that have resulted from this case that impact Manufactured Housing. Those matters of concern are reviewed in the Masthead post, linked here. ##

(Image credit: U. S. Department of Justice)

matthew-silver-daily-business-news-mhpronews-comArticle submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily Business News-MHProNews.