Congressman’s Companies Evicting Renters During Pandemic
Companies affiliated with Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin have tried to evict Oklahoma renters during the pandemic.
This report was written by Emma Rindlisbacher.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., drew ire for voting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, as well as for refusing to wear a mask to keep COVID-19 from spreading when lawmakers locked down during the U.S. Capitol insurrection. His nonchalance about the coronavirus did not end there: Eviction notices have been filed against residents of two rental properties associated with Mullin during the pandemic.
The eviction filings come as coronavirus case counts have steadily increased in Oklahoma and the United States. So far, Oklahoma has seen 3,323 deaths from the coronavirus. In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a national moratorium against evictions as a public health measure to prevent the spread of COVID.
Mullin is associated with multiple rental property companies. His 2019 financial disclosure lists investments in two Oklahoma property management firms: Mullin Properties LLC and Mullin Properties West Division LLC. The disclosure also lists a 50 percent investment in TC4 Investments, LLC by Mullin’s spouse.
According to the Oklahoma Secretary of State website, Markwayne Mullin is the registered agent of Mullin Properties and Christie Mullin is the registered agent of TC4 Investments. Those two rental companies have initiated eviction proceedings during the pandemic in Oklahoma state courts, court documents obtained by The Daily Poster show.
Mullin Properties filed an eviction notice on December 10 against two residents of an apartment in Moore, Oklahoma, according to court filings obtained by The Daily Poster. The eviction notice says it was filed due to the “nonpayment of rent, fees, or other charges.”
TC4 Investments filed an eviction notice against a resident of an apartment building in Pryor, Oklahoma on June 15, 2020, according to a copy of the eviction notice obtained by The Daily Poster. The eviction notice was also filed due to the “nonpayment of rent, fees, or other charges.”
TC4 Investments recently purchased an apartment building in Pryor, according to Markwayne Mullin’s 2019 financial disclosure. The Pryor eviction case appears to have been dismissed.
Mullin’s office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The CDC took action to curb evictions by issuing an eviction moratorium, which took effect on September 4. But the moratorium has been criticized as weakly enforced and has allowed evictions to continue despite the pandemic. The moratorium was set to expire on December 31, before Congress took action and extended the moratorium until January 31. President Joe Biden then extended the moratorium until March 31.
“The current CDC order requires tenants to file a declaration in order to have its protections,” said Shamus Roller, the executive director of the National Housing Law Project. “Few tenants understand this and the CDC has made no efforts to educate the public.”
“Evictions also increase homelessness and in many cases force families to live in overcrowded conditions,” Roller said. “In a time when we should all be limiting social contact, eviction forces people out into the open. New research has demonstrated that evictions lead to higher rates of transmission of COVID and result in deaths from the illness.”
Biden has called on Congress to vote on extending the eviction moratorium through September and to vote on increased aid for renters.
Mullin voted against the December COVID-19 relief package that kept the national eviction moratorium alive, claiming that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had only given him and other representatives a few hours to review the bill. The December legislation also included funds for emergency rental relief.
In addition to his investments in rental housing, Mullin owns several businesses, including a plumbing company, Mullin Plumbing. Four Mullin-associated businesses received between $800,000 and $1.9 million in PPP loans, which the companies reported were used to retain 140 jobs. Mullin Plumbing was previously the subject of an ethics investigation that found the company had improperly paid Mullin $40,000 in violation of House rules.
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