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MHI Allies Respond, Provide Confirmation to #NettlesomeThings, Facts, and Clayton/Berkshire Exposés

December 17th, 2018 Comments off

 

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The issue that follows is tied to allegations of corruption, how that impacts affordable housing, and thus millions of Americans, plus taxpayer funded budgets.  At its core, it’s not a matter of one political party over that one.

 

It seems that the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) and the Berkshire Hathaway brands that operate in manufactured housing backing the Arlington, VA based trade group may be embarrassed.

Rather than respond directly to various allegations against them, they have demonstrably used one or more MHI surrogate(s) to attempt to distract from the concerns over their purportedly corrupted work.

So, this report and analysis is about one/more self-identified ally(ies) of MHI, which last year sent via U.S. Mail the package shown further below – designed as an apparent intimation tactic.  The goal was to attempt to dissuade us from publishing on these concerns.  Note that inside the rather large anonymously sent envelope, which has been examined by federal officials – clearly identifies the person who sent the anonymous envelope as working on behalf of the interests of MHI.

Perhaps they didn’t expect us to publish further about that topic last year?  If so, they were clearly mistaken. We at MHProNews have no intention of being silenced by underhanded and arguably illegal tactics. Misusing the U.S. Mail is a federal offense.

If MHI, Clayton, 21st and the other Berkshire brands want to disprove any of our published allegations or concerns, we invite them anew to do so in public. See a new, in depth report, linked here, on their latest major purported scheme that once more aims at diverting lending from affordable housing, as well as harming several of the independent producers of our industry. If MHI and the Berkshire brands in manufactured housing can’t or won’t disprove the concerns against them, doesn’t that speak volumes?

Numbers inside and out of the factory-built housing industry agree that MHI does nothing contrary to the interests or desires of Clayton Homes, and the various affiliates of Warren Buffett led Berkshire Hathaway that operate in the manufactured housing industry.

 

 

To understand what follows, some added insights are merited.

First, the additional background.  Then, the connections and ties to MHI, and what we will refer at times to as the Berkshire brands operating in MHLand, MHVille – i.e.: the manufactured housing (MH) industry, or the MHIndustry.

When we mention allegations against MHI, Clayton, or a Berkshire related issue(s), we use terminology that makes it clear that in the eyes of the law, they are deemed innocent until proven guilty, by plea on criminal matters, and/or via a settlement agreement in the case of a civil cause of action.

Videos like the following two in 2018, and a third one from a few years ago, are all third-party media. They may provide claimed evidence against them Clayton and their sister companies.  But the above principle applies, they are deemed innocent in the eyes of the law, until a matter is proven, pled, and/or legally settled.

 

 

Note that these video sources span the left-right media divide.

 

 

 

Now, let’s briefly look at justice in America, because many believe there is a two-tier system. One where the rich or famous can delay or avoid convictions of crimes that others accused of the same things could more swiftly be found guilty of doing.

Possible examples are former President Bill and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and their scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, as noted in the second and third video, above.

With that preface, let’s next look at the justice system as it applies to our industry. Because certain practices in both are arguably in need of reform.

 

The Justice System in America, and MHVille

Why do we as a nation lock up convicted criminals? Because if someone is proven guilty of fraud, theft, robbery, rape, RICO, human trafficking, drug dealing, murder, or whatever other serious crimes – they are presumed to be more likely to do it again if they aren’t incarcerated.

So, the goal of incarceration in a prison is in theory to stop more crime from being committed by those proven guilty.

Before someone goes to prison in America – prison, vs. jail – the law provides that they get a defense attorney or one is assigned to them.

 

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If the defense attorney for an accused has moxie and resources, there are a wide range of ways they can legally attempt to refute or cast doubt about an accused person’s guilt.

In civil litigation, both parties have the right to an attorney too, although there are times someone or some organization for whatever reason opts to represent themselves. Even in a criminal defense case, one can go “pro se” or “pro per.”

 

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The Great Manufactured Housing Debate – Guilty…

MHProNews and MHLivingNews are subsidiaries of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC. The registered principals of LifeStyle Factory Homes LLC are L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach and Soheyla Kovach.

They are arguably guilty! Guilty!

Guilty of what?

1) Of wanting to see manufactured housing independents grow and profitably succeed.

2) They are also willing to plead guilty of trying to honestly elevating the image of manufactured housing, manufactured home owners, and honorable manufactured housing professionals.  They strive to do so with facts, evidence, reason, and common-sense.

3) The evidence or proof of that guilt are found on hundreds of articles and scores of posted videos on MHLivingNews.com.

There is even more proof found on MHProNews.com. But there is no court of law needed, because we  hereby plead guilty to counts 1 and 2 above.

Naturally, we as a business want to – and have in fact profited from – such efforts. News is a business, as we’ve underscored before. The fact that MHProNews is the runaway #1 in its niche of manufactured housing trade media is pretty good evidence that we have credibility with our audience.

4) What follows is a partial listing of reasons for credibility, conferred upon our operations’ work, on our team, and/or our publisher by others.

Various third-party mainstream media have spotlighted us or our publisher, for but a few examples:

The above are a partial listing only, none were paid for by MHProNews, and thus are more than enough to demonstrate that MHProNews is widely deemed to be a credible source from outside of our industry.  How about from within the ranks of MHVille?

 

Recommendations, Endorsements, Letters, Videos and Messages 

Every form of modern recommendation that once can think of has been provided to the work of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC and/or our publisher.

Are we perfect?  No, and never claimed to be so.  As a senior MHI member put it recently, “You seem to have conceptual IQ that is more important than spelling ability,” which is a humorous way of saying that we have typos.  Guilty. That same source added, “You [MHProNews] are prolific and you keep the headlines sexy.” Sexy? We’ll let that one go for now.

That said…

 

Over a Thousand Professionals Gave via LinkedIn Recommendations or Endorsements 

Based upon LinkedIn endorsements and kudos alone, we arguable don’t need or require any endorsement by MHI or from people connected to the Berkshire brands.

But we have those MHI- and Berkshire-connected kudos too.

  • Tim Williams – President and CEO of 21st Mortgage Corp, and then MHI Chairman:
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To see the full on-the-record statement by Williams to MHProNews, click here.

  • Howard Walker, JD – the late ELS Vice Chair and MHI Executive Committee member:
HowardWalkerJDELSViceChairmanPhotoManufacturedHouisngInstituteMHIExecuitiveCommitteeBoardMemberDailyBUisnessNewsMHProNews

The words of the late Howard Walker, ELS Vice Chairman, shared for publication with MHProNews.

  • Jim Clayton – founder of Clayton Homes and Clayton Bank  – by video:

 

  • MHI President and CEO, Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison by video and others too:

  • Ann Parman – since retired from MHEI,  the educational wing of MHI:

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MHI and the Berkshire brands were delighted – demonstrably delighted – to have our support based upon the financial logic or merits of issues such as the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act. Note that whatever the odds for success were – and the MHI backed bill never passed – it arguably merited support, for reasons the article linked here revealed.

So, both on MHProNews and on MHLivingNews our publishing and video was sincere.

That support of Preserving Access – and more – was also widely praised by state associations, MHI, and Kevin Clayton himself. He had one word to describe it in this email sent to Tim Williams, to another Clayton staffer, and which Williams forward to our publisher — “Strong….”

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This forwarded email was forwarded to MHProNews by a third party. Why wasn’t all of the pro-industry research, video, and educational materials supporting MHI’s Preserving Access bill shared by MHI?

 

For those who think that all the praise from the Clayton organization is in the past, a Clayton Homes marketing team member praised our work for its thought leadership this year, in 2018.  They asked us for permission to use some of our work from MHLivingNews on the Clayton Homes blog.

 

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Based upon the above, you or any objective person can thus see how difficult it must be for MHI’s or the Berkshire brands.  Standing in their shoes, with respect to the various antitrust and other concerns raised, they arguably can’t simply dismiss MHProNews, which they’ve praised too many time.  While other scandalous behavior allegations have been lodged against them by voices outside manufactured housing, inside our industry, our reporting, fact-checks and analysis have been dominating. As the most prominent voice, they have arguably attacked us indirectly rather than directly.

But we are not alone.  These same MHI/Clayton/Berkshire voices have tried to debatably go after the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) too.

So, if they had a good explanation for issues raised in the related resources, found below the by-line, why do they avoid doing so?  Why don’t they merely debate or disprove – based-upon the merits – MHARR’s arguments – or our own research, fact-checks and reports at MHProNews?  Why?

It’s a tactic some refer to as Duck, Dodge, Dismiss, Distract, Detract, and/or Defame.

 

 

Award-winning investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson – on the cover of her best-selling book – calls this tactic “The Smear.”

 

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These evasion tactics are nothing new.  Cain used the same distraction and smear tactics against Able, but he also took it to the degree of murder.

In an honorable trade association, an association/trade organization is supposed to take input from members – and then based upon that input – craft one or more policy direction(s).

But MHI is debatably no ordinary association. A system is in place that essentially rubber stamps, for example, who will be the next MHI Executive Committee chair, vice chair, secretary, and treasurer. It is that ‘elected’ MHI Executive Committee that makes all final decisions that the paid MHI staff are then called upon to carry out.

For years, one or two of those four MHI Executive Committee members worked directly for a Berkshire brand.  Others had strong ties to Clayton, 21st Mortgage Corp, or another Berkshire brand. Nathan Smith and his scandal plagued SSK Communities for example, has such ties to Clayton Homes and 21st Mortgage. Nathan Smith’s SSK Communities has the distinction of having earned an “F rating” from the third-party Better Business Bureau (BBB).

 

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In fact, among the current or past MHI chairman, you have to go back to the tenure of Don Glisson Jr., President of Triad Financial Services, to find one that didn’t or doesn’t have a serious allegation and/or scandal attached to them.  Joe Stegmayer, for example, is under a cloud of an SEC subpoena, and was a former Clayton Homes division president. By contrast, have you heard of any scandals attached to any recent MHARR elected chairmen?

 

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Increasingly people inside and outside of our part of the affordable housing industry are realizing that where there is smoke, there is a likely fire.

When you follow the evidence of Buffett’s money trail, some of his gifts have flowed to the Tides Foundation and onto such as groups as:

Those in turn have been cited or published reports, protested, or objected to the behavior of Clayton Homes, their sister firms in MHVille, and/or protested at an MHI event.

 

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In a video posted above, it is a former Clayton team member who is pointing their finger at Clayton Homes in their own Knoxville metro hometown media.  Ouch.

The feds have been investigating Clayton and others tied to them in manufactured housing for at least two years, and our sources tell us that their investigations are ongoing. Would the Feds waste the time on a company if there were no evidence?

Maxine Waters (CA-D) and 3 other Democrats have charged Clayton with racism, predatory lending, and with being a ‘near monopoly.’

So, with that brief background, the following envelopes comes in the mail, anonymously.  Bear in mind the first envelope below included an  unsigned letter from someone that identified themselves as clearly acting on behalf of MHI.

What’s inside the next set of envelopes are personal, family matters. Have you ever done something personal that may or may not be bad, but would require some explanation, otherwise it might be briefly embarrassing?  Have you or anyone you know ever squabble with family?

These matters involved legal disputes within our publisher’s family, dating back some 23 years ago. Who cares?  Besides, L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach won, won, and won. As in, Tony Kovach won judgments and was not guilty of any alleged wrongdoing.

The first envelope that follows was sent from a self-identified MHI ally.  The envelope as you can see was hand-written. Big mistake. A letter inside that came with a packet of documents, and was turned over to federal investigators.   As noted, the cover letter was from someone supportive of MHI, and who opposed our MHProNews exposes about them.  Do we want such tactics used against a free press?

 

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Scanned copy of envelope mailed to MHProNews, received on Friday April 9, 2017.  Misusing the U.S. Mail is a federal offense.

 

The Daily Business News on MHProNews reported on the above last year.  Following that 2017 report, there was a pause in such an anonymous letter.  That pause ended during basically the second half of this year (2018). Among those new anonymous letters since that resumption are a new series of letters and their contents, which the 6 shown below (see the dates shown).  Those letters were produced by using a printing device, and we won’t go into much more detail, because federal investigators are on this matter too.

 

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Misusing the U.S. Mail is a federal offense.

 

The Offer to Claytons, Berkshire Brands, & MHI

There is a big fish to catch, one that lacks transparency, and it debatably isn’t MHProNews or MHLivingNews, as we are not trying to monopolize manufactured housing.

That said, we’ll make a deal – an offer to Kevin Clayton, Tim Williams, Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison, Lesli Gooch, et al should take us up on.

  • Appear on stage with our publisher at the upcoming Louisville Manufactured Housing Show, with third-party media and an array of video cameras to record the entire matter.
  • Our publisher will explain on camera in under 2 minutes the contents of these purported distraction and smear tactics envelopes, after Kevin Clayton and Tim Williams explains to the audience and the video cameras their Smoking Gun letters from 2010, the issues around “the Moat” video, and the undisclosed item related to the GSEs and their new class of homes initiatives.
  • Also, let Richard ‘Dick’ Jennison and Lesli Gooch explain on camera after Kevin Clayton and Tim Williams has spoken questions about the GSEs and the so-called ‘new class of homes’ related concerns. Because, the GSE “Duty to Serve” lending isn’t currently being made available for the least expensive manufactured homes, as the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA 2008) arguably required.  Plus, let that pair from MHI answer questions regarding their multi-year Preserving Access effort. For example, why MHI PAC Chair Nathan Smith’s wife supported an opponent to candidate Rep. Andy Barr – when Barr has faithfully supported the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act.
  • Then, let Jim Clayton explain why he supported the opponent of Rep. Marsha Blackburn for the U.S. Senate, when Blackburn was a loyal MHI supporter for Preserving Access.
  • After those three sets go first, Tony will gladly in under 2 minutes explain the guts of the distraction tactics they are trying to use against him and our trade media.  Then, let them all question and cross-examine each under. Let their be transparency in public and on camera.

 

Are those named up for it?  LifeStyle Factory Homes reserves to right to call as witnesses for such a media/video session those who have said off-the-record precisely how the Claytons, 21st, MHI or others have purportedly attempted to drive others of out of business, or force them into selling for less.  There are also others who have reported to us having under-handed tactics against them too.  After the first round of discussions suggested in the bullets above is complete, let let those who claim to be victims of MHI, Clayton or one of the other Berkshire brands take a microphone and tell their stories on video too.

In short, let’s have a robust, transparent discussion.

HowardWalkerPhotoELSViceChairmanManufacturedHomeCOmmunitiesManufacturedHousingInstituteExecCommitteeMemberQuoteTransparencyMHProNews

Thoughtful words, worth pondering. See the story, linked here.

 

Over the Target

L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach has cited the axiom, “You aren’t taking flak unless you are over the target.” These anonymous documents from decades ago aimed at Tony, are arguably because Clayton’s ‘image’ efforts, and the latest MHI self-promotion video are distractions and/or fig leaves from the real issues that have kept manufactured housing snoring when it should be roaring.  Clayton has consolidated roughly half of the industry since 2003, using a variety of strategies that Warren Buffett broadly calls “the Moat.”

 

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Ask yourself, why the GSEs aren’t supporting all HUD Code manufactured homes, which is the most affordable permanent housing available – instead of only supporting only the far more expense Clayton backed ‘new class’ of manufactured homes?

Every one of the tactics described herein or previously has reportedly been attempted or used on others, per those who have told MHProNews.  Some of those relating their personal stories about Clayton, MHI, et al shared them face-to-face. Others have via phone, message, etc.

Perhaps most significantly, if federal investigators are taking such concerns seriously, maybe more in media, public officials, MH industry professionals, and investors should too?  Don’t forget what is said on those third-party and mainstream video, further above. You don’t have to take our word for it, because we’ve laid out the facts, evidence, and the money trail.

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Why is there a growing affordable housing in crisis?  Call it a rigged system, manipulation, and/or corrupt practices.  That’s this morning’s “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)

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