SBTC Files Appeal of Broker Investigation Request After Abrupt Removal of USDOT OIG

Washington D.C. – The Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) is appealing a recent denial of its request by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) Office of Inspector General (OIG) to investigate large brokerage firms.

On May 6, the Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) filed a complaint with the USDOT OIG, Mitch Behm, asking for an investigation to be opened into possible “evasion of regulation by big brokers.”

“Insofar as big brokers are coercing carriers in their contracts to waive their rights to paperwork that show shipper payments to evade regulation, the SBTC hereby requests an OIG investigation into this matter,” the SBTC’s complaint stated.




 

On May 13, Scott Harding, with the USDOT OIG, informed SBTC president James Lamb by email the group’s request had been denied.

Harding informed officials “determined that your concerns do not warrant a formal OIG Investigation/Inquiry, and the appropriate venue may lie with other established procedures.”

However, President Donald Trump abruptly ordered Behm’s removal and demotion to deputy inspector general on Friday, May 15.

The decision was immediately met with criticism by Congressional Democrats as Behm was reportedly investigating a series of alleged ethics violations by USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao.

Howard Elliott, administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, is replacing Behm, the USDOT said.




 

On Friday, the SBTC filed an appeal of the USDOT OIG’s previous denial asking Elliott to open an investigation into brokers.

“In this case, evasion of regulation by Big Property Brokers has in part criminal overtones in the statute that I believe can only be handled within USDOT by OIG,” the SBTC’s new complaint states. “Given the President’s interest in this matter, perhaps you will direct a second look.”

Meanwhile, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has begun interviewing truckers and other trucking industry stakeholders in an investigation into alleged price fixing and antitrust violations by freight brokers.


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Multiple sources have confirmed to Transportation Nation Network (TNN) that they have already been interviewed by DOJ prosecutors as part of an investigation into alleged freight broker abuses.

“I do now believe for the first time they are listening to us,” one source who was interviewed and wished to remain anonymous told TNN. “We are very excited about moving forward with everything that’s being done here.”




 

James Lamb, president of the SBTC, took to Twitter this week to publicly announce he has also been interviewed by DOJ investigators as part of the case being handled by New Jersey U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito with the DOJ Antitrust Division.

The SBTC was the first trucking group during the pandemic to call for a DOJ investigation into possible violations of the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act, which criminalizes corporate collusion for the purpose of price fixing.

Lamb tells TNN he has forwarded the group’s April 28th antitrust complaint against “big freight brokers” to U.S. Attorney Carpenito and is cooperating fully in the investigation.

TransportationNation.com will continue to follow this developing story.

 


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