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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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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

 

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