July 20, 2017

Warren, Feinstein go after Airbnb for hotel lobby

Stock Photo - Waving flag with Airbnb logo. Editorial 3D rendering
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Three top Democratic senators were working with the hotel industry when they wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission last year urging it to investigate Airbnb and others in the "sharing economy."

The letter from Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Dianne Feinstein of California and Brian Schatz of Hawaii was part of a coordinated, multipronged strategy by hotel lobbyists to use federal regulations to cripple Airbnb, which has emerged as a major competitor to the traditional hospitality industry.

Minutes from a 2016 board meeting of the American Hotel and Lodging Association show that the senators wrote the letter "after working closely with AHLA for several months." The minutes describe the senators’ letter as "highlight[ing] our strategy of pushing for transparency while calling out the public policy issues and the need for a level playing field." The trade group was particularly pleased that it had enlisted the Massachusetts senator’s support: "Senator Warren’s status as one of the more prominent lawmakers among progressive activists has helped mobilize additional grassroots and political support."

Warren’s office declined to answer questions regarding the trade association’s claims. Her office issued the following statement: "In the face of a growing affordable housing crisis, we need reliable nationwide information […]

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