USA Tipline

The Conscience of Congress: The Tipline for 24 July 2020

GCR USA - 24 July 2020

Monday’s highly anticipated hearing before the House antitrust committee will likely be postponed as Congressman John Lewis lies in state in the US Capitol on Monday and Tuesday. The civil rights crusader died last Friday at the age of 80. Over the course of his life, Lewis championed getting into “good trouble” as he was arrested 40 times during sit-ins, freedom rides and nonviolent protests. He was the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where he proclaimed: “We do not want our freedom gradually, but we want to be free now! We are tired. We are tired of being beaten by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again.”

Remote lobbying: The Tipline for 23 July 2020

GCR USA - 23 July 2020

Executives from the top four US tech companies will testify before the House of Representatives next week, but their lobbying efforts precede them. Facebook and Amazon both spent more than $4 million on lobbying in the second quarter of 2020, while Google spent $1.7 million and Apple $1.5 million. But the question remains: how did lobbyists wine and dine members of Congress during the covid-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown of many DC restaurants? That kind of money would buy a lot of takeout. We have more on second-quarter lobbying in today’s Tipline, plus details about the lead lawyer in the Antitrust Division’s most recent merger trial leaving for private practice.

Houyhnhnms: The Tipline for 22 July 2020

GCR USA - 22 July 2020

If municipal bond investor Preston Hollow’s antitrust claims against rival Nuveen reach a bench trial, the New York federal judge writing the opinion will have a hard time finding more colourful language than a Delaware court recently used in a similar dispute between the two companies. Court of Chancery vice chancellor Sam Glasscock compared Nuveen’s trial witnesses to the Houyhnhnms in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels who cannot comprehend what it means to lie, as the witnesses used terms like “hedge”, “blustering” and “short-cutting” to describe their false statements. Also in today’s Tipline, United Talent Agency settles its differences with the Writers’ Guild of America and a top US Department of Agriculture official says the agency will soon release a much-anticipated report on competition in cattle markets.

Strength in numbers: The Tipline for 21 July 2020

GCR USA - 21 July 2020

The strength of an argument is not measured solely by the number of people making it. However, one does not need pen and paper to tally whether the Department of Justice’s probes of 10 cannabis mergers have more supporters or dissenters among the antitrust community. Amid the barrage of criticism, Notre Dame Law School professor and former Antitrust Division official Roger Alford has come to the DOJ’s defence.

Inside baseball: The Tipline for 20 July 2020

GCR USA - 20 July 2020

Unable to reach an agreement with the players’ union, Major League Baseball unilaterally set a 60-game season to take place over 67 days in empty stadiums. The New York Yankees head to the nation’s capitol to take on the defending champs, the Washington Nationals, on the opening day, but plenty of questions still remain. Will the Toronto Blue Jays be allowed to play in Canada? Will Winston & Strawn partner Jeff Kessler represent the players in their potential grievance against the league? Oh, and how in the peanuts and Cracker Jacks are you supposed to hold a season in a country that has seen its seven-day average of covid-19 cases rise for 41 straight days?

Put up a parking lot: The Tipline for 17 July 2020

GCR USA - 17 July 2020

With the coronavirus pandemic overwhelming a Georgia community’s only hospital, the state has repurposed shipping containers as intensive care units for covid-19 patients in Phoebe Putney Health’s parking lot. Seven years ago, the Federal Trade Commission found itself unable to unwind that hospital’s acquisition of rival Palmyra Medical Center – despite a Supreme Court ruling in the agency’s favour – because state regulators deemed Albany, Georgia, to be “over-bedded”. Construction of a competing hospital is now in progress just a few miles away and Phoebe has objected to its second request to extend building time.

Twitter break: The Tipline for 16 July 2020

GCR USA - 16 July 2020

Prominent and widely followed Twitter accounts were hacked in a coordinated operation late yesterday, with Tesla chief executive Elon Musk’s account one of the first to display a message asking users to send cryptocurrency Bitcoin to a certain address. The accounts of Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden also displayed the spam message. Twitter blocked all verified accounts from tweeting while figuring out a fix. During that period of uncertainty, the antitrust world may have been deprived of Twitter spats between Josh Wright and Matt Stoller or Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee. Lucky for all of you, @gcr_alerts was not impacted.

Mine, baby, mine: The Tipline for 15 July 2020

GCR USA - 15 July 2020

No GCR USA reporters have worked inside a coal mine, but we imagine it makes for quite the noisy working environment. As the Federal Trade Commission’s challenge to the Peabody Energy/Arch Coal joint venture got underway yesterday, the Missouri federal court did its best to recreate the atmosphere inside a mine in the Southern Powder River Basin. “Good luck with this hearing. It’s a nightmare,” said one listener dialling in to the court’s teleconference. “The media line isn’t listen-only and all these people are talking in the background.”

Coal-hearted: The Tipline for 14 July 2020

GCR USA - 14 July 2020

Those hoping to spend their Monday listening to the Federal Trade Commission’s quest to block a joint venture between Peabody Energy and Arch Coal found themselves heartbroken. A 10-day preliminary injunction hearing was scheduled to start yesterday, but the federal courthouse in St Louis, Missouri, was closed after a security officer tested positive for covid-19. The litigating parties are set to resume in-person today while GCR USA tunes in live from its home office.

Alabama all alone: The Tipline for 13 July 2020

GCR USA - 13 July 2020

California is the nation’s most populous state and home to some of its largest companies – and now also reportedly one of the many states investigating Google for potential antitrust violations. It is going its own way, however, probing separately from the 48-state group led by Texas that launched its investigation last year. That leaves Alabama as the only state not investigating the tech company. In today’s Tipline we have updates on the Texas-led investigation, plus Tim Wu’s views on using antitrust law to counter market concentration, and much of Oklahoma’s new pharmacy benefit manager rules surviving a preliminary injunction request.

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