Report: Lack of Price-Gouging Enforcement from DOJ Has Led to Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars
Politico Article Shows DOJ Intentionally Slow-Walked Prosecution of Price-Gouging
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new report from Politico shows that the Trump administration’s Department of Justice has intentionally slow-walked enforcement against individuals and companies potentially price-gouging consumers during the pandemic. The report, based in part on research from Accountable.US, shows an administration choosing the side of those who would take advantage of American consumers by engaging in a philosophical debate of “economic forces.”
“The Trump administration has never met a consumer it wanted to protect or a nefarious business it wanted to prosecute. That the DOJ is allowing companies to take advantage of Americans during a global pandemic is as shocking as it is shameful,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “The lack of price-gouging enforcement has cost Americans millions of dollars and endangered lives — further proof that the administration is not looking out for its citizens in a time of crisis.”
As early as March 9, 2020, companies were asking the Trump administration to be proactive about price-gouging related to coronavirus. However, it took until March 24, 2020 for the Department of Justice to take any action. Only then did the DOJ send a memo to U.S. attorneys outlining recommendations for tackling price-gouging and create a national task force dedicated to monitoring and prosecuting price-gouging.
A closer look at the task force shows a DOJ that has announced just three investigations of companies accused of price-gouging practices, despite having claimed in late April to be investigating 150 instances of price-gouging and supply hoarding. Meanwhile, state attorneys general have been doggedly pursuing price-gouging cases and have managed floods of consumer complaints into their offices.
The Politico report says that “By Accountable.US’ count, more than 49,000 complaints about price-gouging have been submitted to law enforcement officials in 22 states. The number of complaints exponentially outnumbers the number of cases the DOJ task force has brought. The Eastern District of New York — whose top prosecutor will soon decamp for DOJ headquarters — has brought several, and the district of New Jersey charged the man who coughed at FBI agents.”
States have seen thousands of complaints, such as:
- New York: Over 7,000 complaints in less than three months
- New Jersey: Over 5,000 complaints in less than three months
- Pennsylvania: Over 5,000 Complaints received during the pandemic
- Texas: Over 10,000 complaints during the pandemic
With little federal support, states have had to address threats of price-gouging on their own through executive orders, legislation, and extensions of states of emergency. Governors and state legislators have had to take the lead on enforcement against the unfair mark-up of consumer goods across the country
A full report from Accountable.US of the DOJ’s lack of action can be found here.