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Democratic Lawmakers want DOJ to Investigate Clayton Homes, lenders in wake of Seattle Times/BuzzFeed report

January 13th, 2016 Comments off

maxine_waters_democrat_from_calif__bet__creditFour Democratic House Representatives have asked the Justice Department to look into allegations of Clayton Homes and their related lenders alleged targeting of minority borrowers, based on the advocacy journalism of the Seattle Times and BuzzzFeed’s Mike Baker and Daniel Wagner. Baker and Wagner have been described as making a career attacking Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway

Baker and Wagner have alleged that minorities are charged higher rates than their white counterparts, a claim Clayton Homes has strongly denied, providing their own facts to make their case.

Rep. Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, has been joined by Keith Ellison, Emanuel Cleaver and Michael Capuano in writing a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray asking for an investigation into the charges.

The allegations raised in the news report are squarely within the agencies’ authority to investigate and pursue appropriate corrective action,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote. According to Bloomberg, The Seattle Times and BuzzFeed have updated their attacks on Clayton Homes and related lenders.

Calling the news accounts misleading, Clayton said, “race and ethnicity don’t factor into how it prices loans, that it doesn’t target minority communities and that it doesn’t tolerate discrimination against employees.”

MHLivingNews checked with industry sources, who dispute the Seattle Times/BuzzFeed accounts, based upon their own knowledge and experience of Clayton Homes, and their related lending arms, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, and 21st Mortgage.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns Clayton, says he makes no apologies for the lending practices of what is the largest producer of manufactured homes in North America.

Neither the firm nor Warren Buffett had any immediate comment following the most recent charges.

Sam Gilford, a spokesman for the CFPB, said last month that “the allegations of discrimination and predatory practices raised by the reporting are obviously very concerning to the bureau,” although Gilford declined to say whether Clayton was being investigated. ##

(Editor’s Note: MHC activist, Ishbel Dickens, in comments to MHLivingNews connected the PBS NewsHour report to the Seattle Times/BuzzFeed stories and the pending Dodd-Frank related reforms of CFPB regulations of manufactured home personal property loans. See Dicken’s comments, as a download to a related report, linked here.)  

(Photo credit: bet–Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), minority leader, House Financial Services Committee)

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Article submitted by Matthew J. Silver to Daily BusinesNews-MHProNews.