One last thing: Real estate figures feature prominently among Presidential Pardons
One of the last headlines the Trump administration made was the presidential pardons which included several from the real estate world.
On the list is Lend America’s Michael Ashley. Ashley was convicted for bank fraud over the 2009 collapse of mortgage company Lend America and sentenced to 3 years in prison in 2019. He was the executive vice president and chief business strategist with the company. Ashley was ordered to pay $49 million in restitution and $800,000 in forfeiture. His sentence was commuted.
Jon Harder, the former president and CEO of Sunwest Management, which manages senior housing properties, also had his sentence commuted after serving five years of a 15-year term. Harder pleaded guilty in 2015 to two felony counts of mail fraud and money laundering for his role in a multimillion-dollar, nationwide investor fraud scheme while he was at the helm of Salem-based Sunwest Management and its affiliated companies.
Also on the list was Benedict Olberding. Olberding was convicted on one count of bank fraud. Olberding now runs a consulting business to train prospective mortgage brokers.
Eric Wesley Patton, who was convicted of making a false statement on a mortgage application in 1999, received a pardon from Trump. “In the 20 yea
rs since his conviction, Mr. Patton has worked hard to build a sterling reputation, been a devoted parent, and made solid contributions to his community by quietly performing good deeds for friends, neighbors, and members of his church,” the White House statement said.
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Biden signs 15 executive orders on his first day; CFPB director resigns
President Biden signed 15 executive orders for his first day in office, far more than any of his modern predecessors, none of whom signed more than one.
As part of the order, Biden will be extending the federal eviction moratorium until at least March 31 and the pause on interest and principal payments for direct federal loans until at least Sept. 30.
Furthermore, HUD has now been explicitly directed to consider potential homeowners with the DACA “dreamer” status to be considered for FHA loans. While the previous administration never explicitly banned these mortgages, they never promoted their use, either. This news is simply part of the broader immigration plan from the new administration.
“Earlier today and prior to 12:00 pm, Secretary Carson and I posted a waiver and other documents to the HUD website that makes clear DACA status recipients are now eligible to apply for mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration,” wrote Brian Montgomary on his LinkedIn, who changed his status to “Former” Deputy Secretary at U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “This notification marks the first time since DACA was established in 2012 that makes clear DACA status recipients are eligible to apply provided they meet other FHA requirements.”
Meanwhile, the head of the largest, strongest regulator in the mortgage space, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Director Kathy Kraninger, also resigned, this time at the request of the newly sworn-in President Biden, clearing the way for his nominee, Rohit Chopra, to lead the powerful regulatory agency.
Kraninger, a Republican appointed by former President Trump, announced her departure via Twitter (here’s her letter, though it may be removed since she no longer holds the position) roughly an hour after Biden was inaugurated as the 46th U.S. president.
“I support the Constitutional prerogative of the President to appoint senior officials within the government who support the President’s policy priorities, which ensures our government is responsive to the will of the people as expressed in presidential elections,” Kraninger wrote.
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Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks now want to help distribute COVID-19 vaccines
The economic recovery is hinged on the successful, widespread rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, as we noted time and time again in Rise&Shred. Biden’s goal is to vaccinate 100 million Americans in his first 100 days of the administration. However, there have been setbacks.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that just 145,780 first doses remain on hand. New York state has been averaging about 65,000 dose administrations a day. At the current rate, the governor says New York's supply will be exhausted in two or three days — maximum.
Help may be on the way.
Amazon sent a letter to President Joe Biden Wednesday offering to help the White House distribute the Covid-19 vaccine, marking a sharp change from the company’s contentious relationship with former president Donald Trump as the Biden administration faces a significant challenge in ramping up the vaccine rollout.
Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon's consumer business, and one of the company's highest-ranking executives, sent a letter to the president shortly after he was sworn in Wednesday.
“We are prepared to leverage our operations, IT, & communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts,” Clark wrote. “Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort.”
Starbucks said it will assist the state of Washington with distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. The coffee chain has tasked 11 staffers who have knowledge in R&D, operations, and labor and deployment with full-time work on distributing the vaccine in Washington, NBC News reported, citing the company. Vaccinations will not be available at Starbucks locations.
Those staffers who are tasked to work on distributing the vaccine will utilize the coffee chain's computer simulation technology to detect methods to speed up vaccinations.
Moreover, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said the state is making plans for more than 2,000 pharmacies to provide shots and is putting drive-by vaccination locations into place. Microsoft will also create a location in the state to give 5,000 shots daily.
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