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Buffett/Berkshire Bust! Stunning Charges – Frank Rolfe, Dave Reynolds, Impact Communities Lawsuit Against Residents; MHAction Connection Evidence

WarrenBuffettPhotoBerkshireLogoBustStunningChargesFrankRolfeDaveReynoldsImpactCommunitiesLawsuitAgainstResidentsMHActionLogoConnectionEvidenceMHProNewsMHINCCLogo

This is 100% untrue and complete nonsense.”

  • Dave Reynolds,
    partner of Frank Rolfe in Impact Communities, Mobile Home University, other manufactured home community operations, and members of MHI/NCC and business allies with various Berkshire Hathaway owned companies.

 

Push Rents [in manufactured home communities] Relentlessly…”

  • Dave Reynolds,
    partner with Frank Rolfe in Impact Communities, et al.

 

Sure, it sounds unfair. But there’s nothing illegal about it.”
(Note: the accuracy of that statement is debatable, but is an accurate quotation).

If you like having a monopoly, holding all the cards, knowing the tenants won’t move their homes out, never worrying about someone building a new property near you and taking one of the tenant’s biggest assets if they default, then you’re going to love mobile home parks.”

 

Manufactured home communities can be a critical source of affordable housing in rural and exurban areas for working families and seniors on fixed incomes. However, over the past 20 years, manufactured home communities increasingly have gone from “mom and pop” enterprises to ownership by large corporations and private equity firms. Corporate ownership has brought with it an unsustainable business model of rapidly escalating lot fees – the rent residents pay for the land on which their homes sit — and decreasing investment into community operation. Residents are stuck, choosing between paying increasing rent, sometimes at the expense of food or medicine, or abandoning their homes.”

  • From the MHAction website What We Are Fighting For

 

There are no coincidences in Washington [DC]” and “Follow the money” are how to understand American politics, according to statements attributed to the late Senator William Proxmire (WI-D), according to reporter John Solomon.

 

To ensure that MHAction keeps true to its values of being a leadership led and directed organization that builds the power of manufactured homeowners and residents to create concrete improvement in their lives…”

 

Preface. It could all be a series of amazing coincidences.

Or not.

The inside source that tipped MHProNews that apparent enemies Frank Rolfe, Dave Reynolds and MHAction are actually cunningly deceptive allies has been flatly denied by Dave Reynolds, as was cited in his brief statement above to MHProNews.

By contrast, multiple MHAction leaders contacted on 5.11.2020 have been silent about the same allegation.

MHAction, in concert with other progressive groups, has for some time produced research that points to their claim that private equity is increasingly consolidating the manufactured home community sector.

They factually note that was once routinely “mom and pop” operations – that in numbers of cases lived for decades in harmony with residents – has turned into an often-adversarial relationship between aggressive manufactured home community consolidators such as Frank Rolfe, Dave Reynolds, Havenpark Capital and others.

Those firms and others they cited such as the Carlyle Group, Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), partners “Frank and Dave” led Impact Communities, Havenpark, others have a routine connection. They are members of the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (MHI) National Community Council (NCC).

Indeed, Nathan Smith, a prior MHI chairman of the board and partner in what was previously called SSK Communities and is now rebranded Flagship Communities, and is still active on several prominent levels at MHI/NCC. Smith is among those who have sparked controversial media coverage due to so-called “predatory” business practices. As was previously reported, Smith-led SSK had an ‘F‘ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

These factoids and others beg several questions.

  • Is there evidence that supports the allegation of collusion that Reynolds denied and MHAction has been silent about?
  • Is MHAction is in fact an artificially created “pop up” advocacy surrogate beholden to powerful monied-interests that targeted the manufactured housing industry’s most visible sector – land-lease communities?
  • Is MHAction working in a fashion that postures helping and advocating for residents when they are arguably de facto or by design helping the very consolidators that they claim to oppose?

Keep in mind that resident group Golden State Manufactured-Home Owner League (GSMOL) warned their members against MHAction. To understand the significant new information included in this report, previously reported items must be woven into this newly researched subject. Thus, this preface along with the following predicate or outline are useful.

Additionally, insights and court filings from the legal action that occurred between Impact Communities and some of their residents will be part of this report.

If one believes that the late Senator Proxmire is correct, namely, that the secret to understanding the machinations of Washington politics and those who fund activities in D.C. is to follow the money trail and recognize that there are no coincidences, this in-depth report will prove useful to the ethically and justice-minded on several levels.

 

Introduction.

As noted, it will benefit our growing numbers of new readers as well as longer term ones to retrace an outline of previously reported points before pivoting to the new tips, research, and information relevant to ethically profit minded-manufactured home professionals plus all those with a sincere interest in advancing affordable home ownership.

Significant new information will follow this introduction.

As some of these items have political overtones, it will be useful to explore the notion RINOs and DINOs. Because posturing without performance is rather common in politics but it also occurs in business and other aspects of living too.

The term “RINO” is an acronym that means “Republican In Name Only.” Wikipedia says that Democrat In Name Only (or DINO) is a pejorative term for any member of the United States Democratic Party elected as a Democrat but who governs and legislates like a Republican would. The term was created as an analogous opposite to the acronym RINO (Republican In Name Only).”

Each term RINO or DINO is a description of a personality posturing one thing but behaving in a starkly different manner. Related to these pejorative descriptions is the term “Yellow Dog Democrat”, a reference to Southern Democrats said to be ‘so loyal they would even vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for any Republican’.” Again, the source is Wikipedia, but it should be noted that such die-hard loyalists exist in both major political parties.

While there has long been partisanship, various researchers across the left-right spectrum have demonstrated that there are dramatically fewer swing voters in Congress now than during the Reagan Administration.

That said, MHProNews has periodically stressed that affordable housing is ideally a nonpartisan or a bipartisan issue. That such bipartisanship is still possible is demonstrated by two of the most important laws that could – if fully implemented – boost affordable home ownership most dramatically.

Those two laws would be the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act of 2000 (MHIA) and the Duty to Serve (DTS) Manufactured Housing lending mandated on the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Note that each of those two bills were enacted by widely bipartisan margins. Democrats and Republicans worked together to create more affordable housing by providing specific support with consumers protections built in. The MHIA was signed into law by former President William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton (D). HERA and DTS were signed into law by former President George W. Bush (R).

While it may be tempting to see what follows through a partisan lens, what this report will do is simply lay out fact after fact, often using the exact words of the person or organization being referenced. For new readers, it is important to note that MHProNews editorially has for years advocated nonpartisan or bipartisan efforts to advance and protect the interests of manufactured home owners, independent businesses and the tens of millions who desire affordable home ownership that they have not yet attained.

 

MHAction – Proudly Progressive

The proudly progressive activist group known as MHAction are among those who have cogently made the argument that DTS has been twisted into being used to make lower cost loans on land-lease manufactured home communities (MHCs). When Fannie or Freddie make low cost loans available to a so-called “predatory” manufactured home community operator, those businesses have often those loans to buy a community that in turn has its site fees or “lot rent” raised in an often stiff or steep manner.

A sharp or “predatory” rise in site fees or lot rent can become a destabilizing impact on a significant number of residents, who under ‘mom and pop’ type of non-corporate portfolio ownership were often only modestly increasing site fees or who may have had gone years with no lot rent hikes at all.

So, the issue raised by members of MHAction can be validated by facts that the group has themselves presented. Their research is arguably an apt example of the importance of applying to all the principle of separating the wheat from the chaff.

That noted, a fair question is this.

  • Are MHAction leaders presenting ‘solutions’ or policy proposals that would actually improve the problems that hundreds of thousands of community residents face that the progressive group claim they want fixed?

Dozens of states have laws that during an emergency that aim to prevent stiff price hikes or “price gouging” – such as is known to occur after a hurricane, other natural disaster or the current COVID19 pandemic. But those price-gouging laws are invoked as ‘temporary’ in their impact on prices. Normally, the so-called free market is allowed to function within certain legal norms.

Rent control might be used in some cases as a temporary fix akin to price gouging laws are used. But if underlying issues aren’t addressed that has caused rents to spike or rise rapidly, then rent control can over time per third-party research create more harm than good. Consider the following examples.

The Canadian news media video below is an example of that specifically in the manufactured housing sector. Rent control was a factor in drying up the construction of new manufactured home communities. Yet it is only new manufactured home community sites in sufficient numbers that would solve in a free market fashion the issue of accelerating costs.

 

 

Some of the research on that topic of how rent control tends to slow the creation of more affordable housing, from a perspective outside of manufactured housing, is put forth in a one minute summary by the Manhattan Institute video below.

 

 

Yet, despite such facts and examples, MHAction consistently advocates for rent control. They are not alone. MHAction does so in conjunction with other progressive organizations. The pull-quotes below from the MHAction website make the point.

 

  • QuoteMarkManufacturedHomeLivingNewsApr 27, 2018 – Illinois manufactured homeowners, tenants and affordable housing activists have an exciting opportunity to advance rent control in the state!
  • Mar 23, 2018 – … Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act. Passing the Affordable Housing Act will allow local governments to establish strong rent controlpolicies…
  • Apr 20, 2020 – Doug has rent control in his Humboldt County, CA manufactured home community, but thinks every California tenant deserves the same… (rights).

 

If MHAction is sincere in their desire to benefit residents, why haven’t they advocated for perhaps temporary rent control, as has resident leader Bob Van Cleef, while promoting the construction of more manufactured home communities and single-family owner-occupied home sites that would mitigate against the problematic and predatory practices they claim to oppose? See his comments in the report linked below.

 

RobertBobVanCleefManufacturedHomeCommunityLeaderDiscussesManufacturedHousingInsanityManufacturedHomeLivingNews
https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/manufactured-home-community-leader-discusses-manufactured-housing-insanity/

 

Indeed, MHAction was a high-profile component of the advocacy in New York State to get rent control passed. But no sooner than the law was passed, MHI member RHP Properties immediately set out to challenge the new law.

 

GiantManufacturedHomeCommunityOperatorManufacturedHousingInstituteMemberRHPPropertiesBacksDownHUDFHFANonprofitsYouManufacturedHomeLivingNews
https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/giant-manufactured-home-community-operator-and-manufactured-housing-institute-member-rhp-properties-backs-down-hud-fhfa-nonprofits-and-you/

 

MHAction is active in Delaware, where rent control is the norm.

Which makes this pivot to Impact Communities’ fellow MHI/National Communities Council member of Impact Communities, ELS, of keen interest.

 

During an Q3 2019 Earnings Call for Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS) conducted on October 22, 2019.

Michael Bilerman — Citigroup – Analyst asked the following from ELS’ management.

“…Obviously rent control is a big topic from a multi-family perspective across the US. I know you’ve dealt with it before, but there’s just a lot more movement in a lot more states. I guess how are you thinking about that impacting your business where you’ve obviously been able to push rents, pretty significantly over the years for your product? And look I recognize the MH business is a more affordable product for — for people, but your land rents have moved up pretty dramatically over the last decade. So, can you talk a little bit about how you are sort of evaluating the landscape today and where you stand?”

ELS’ president answered that as follows, both per the Motley Fool’s transcription of the recorded call.

Marguerite Nader — President and Chief Execute Officer (ELS).

MargueriteNaderPhotoEquityLifeStylePropertiesLogoSure. Sure. So as you said, we’ve been operating in the rate control environment in — for a long time. We have 23 properties that are subjected — subjected to mandated rent control. That’s primarily in California. And so, we’ve been very vocal in our opposition of rent control. Over the last 20 years, we’ve won some cases and in others we are operating in the rent control environment and you see our results as — as a result of that rent control environment. So we’re able to still generate some — some very healthy growth rate even operating in an environment. But then, beyond the actual strip rent control, there are states that have regulations around rent increases, like Florida for instance, we operate under the terms of a prospectus and that prospectus runs with the land and governs the annual rent increases.

This actually continues to be an important selling point for our residents considering to buy our properties. They — we established a relationship with the homeowners association, then we spent time focused on meeting the needs of them — of the residents, and we’re trying to achieve fair rent increases. And so, in general, in our communities where we have mandated rent control, we see a transfer of the economics from the landlord to the tenant. So, where monthly rental rates are suppressed, but there is no governor of the sale price of the home, and we’ve seen firsthand that that does not — that rate control in our environment doesn’t make the overall housing more affordable. They really shift the payment from the monthly site rent to a payment for the home. So, we closely monitor all the activity for the states that we operate in, and we’re also working with our national association to make sure that our industry is represented. But it’s kind of — for us, it’s more of the same, I know — others are dealing with it kind of for the first time, but we’ve been dealing with it for a while now.”

 

Or consider what pro-resident owned communities (ROCs) advocate and ROCUSA president Paul Bradley had to say about the rent control issue.

PaulBradleyPresPhotoROCUSALogoRentControlManufacturedHomeLandLeaseCommunties-768x607

 

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https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/results-vs-resistance-cutting-fog-with-facts-for-mhville/

Even a pro-rent control advocate and MHAction affiliated member Rob Weymouth who wrote a letter to his local editor to encourage readers to “vote Democratic” to fix his states rent control bill. It was Democrats who passed the rent control measure, a Democratic governor signed into law, and Weymouth himself who said after all of that calling their current rent control law “useless.” For more details on that, see our previous reports on that linked above and below this paragraph.

 

 

MH Communities, Owners, MH Independents Alert – NMHOA and MHAction Next Steps? – Part 1

 

Summed up, there is a wealth of evidence that would indicate that rent control is a failed long-term strategy. There are MHAction members who have paradoxically said as much. There is only one long-term solution to the problem. That solution is creating more placement options so that there would be a free market check on the otherwise escalating prices.

These facts about rent control – and there’s far more research or such evidence that could be provided – point to a vexing issue that begs the following. Why would MHAction’s leaders – who are clearly educated individuals – promote as a key ‘solution’ a clearly failed option? Namely, rent control? Even if it they were ignorant of the problems of rent control, sources say MHAction is well aware of – and reportedly readers of – MHLivingNews and MHProNews. Rent control is one of the topics that have been repeatedly explored and exposed as ineffective long term. So who benefits from rent control?

Ironically, consolidating operators such as ELS, “Frank and Dave,” Havenpark Capital, RHP Properties, Carlyle and others. Rent control becomes a regulatory burden for the mom and pop operation. Their solution is often to sell out to the very consolidators who use sharp “predatory” practices that MHAction claims to be fighting against. Rent control is a living example of what Carol Roth explained about heavier regulations are the stealthy ally of big businesses.

 

CarolRothQuoteFoxInFactBigBusinessSecretlyLoveRegulationsAntiCompetitiveManySmallBusinessesNewRegulationCanPutThemOutofBusinessManufacturedHomeProNews

 

The solution that would work is the one that has been advocated by the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) for over a dozen years. Support the full and proper implementation of the MHIA and DTS.

Implementing the MHIA would mean creating more home sites as options. That would in turn reduce – through free market forces – the upward pressures of increasingly site fees on manufactured home community residents. While there are several examples of this, one is sufficient to make the point.

In the ever-growing Houston area, a new community was developed which provided incentives for move in. Those new community move-in incentives could include the hard-costs of relocation from an existing community to the new one. That developer wasn’t alone in making such an offer.

DaveReynoldsFrankRolfeRVhorizonsMobileHomeParkStoreMobileHomeUniversityBootCamps-postedDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews
Dave Reynolds (l), Frank Rolfe (r), of Mobile Home U, Impact Communities, et al. 

The point is with new developments, competition exists. Without substantial new development, an environment is created that fosters the ability of operators – that routinely happen to be MHI members and/or connected with the MHI affiliates – allows operators like Reynolds and Rolfe to “Push Rents [in manufactured home communities] Relentlessly…”

Or as Rolfe put it, “If you like having a monopoly, holding all the cards, knowing the tenants won’t move their homes out, never worrying about someone building a new property near you and taking one of the tenant’s biggest assets if they default, then you’re going to love mobile home parks.”

That’s why Rolfe argued against building new communities, ‘ever.’ See that prior report linked below.

 

FrankRolfeSaysWhyYouShouldNeverBuildMobileHomeParkSeriouslyFactCheckAnalysisManufacturedHomeLivingNews
The argument made by Rolfe is not only purportedly flawed, it is entirely self serving. https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/frank-rolfe-says-why-you-should-never-build-a-mobile-home-park-seriously-fact-check-and-analysis/

Put differently, the argument can be made that if MHAction, Reynolds and Rolfe aren’t colluding with each other – as a well-placed tipster claims – then what MHAction is pushing for – rent control and lots of media that makes manufactured home communities look like a bad bargain, MHAction might as well be colluding with them. The outcome could arguably be the same either way. Coincidence?

With that understanding, additional insights and evidence is worth probing. Keep in mind Proximire’s adage, that there are no coincidences.

 

Lessons from Layton MHC? Impact Community Sues Residents

The above sheds light on a keen new tip was provided to MHProNews. The source’s insights seemed to fit previously known patterns. As noted, the question was posed to partners Dave Reynolds and Frank Rolfe. The first quote above was Reynolds’ flat denial of the allegations that he and his colleague were on some level working in conjunction with MHAction.

Reporter Tim Vandenack from the Standard-Examiner tracked that issue of the Impact Communities related legal action in articles like the one linked here. Reynolds thoughtfully provided two of the court filings, available as downloads at this link here and here.

On the surface, Reynolds’ denial would seem to make sense. After all, protests by MHAction of Rolfe’s and Reynolds’ so-called “Mobile Home University” (MHU) “training,” via “bus tours,” “boot camps” and properties operated by them may indeed seem absurd. The video below is but one example of several possible that reflects a protest of “Frank and Dave” connected operations.

 

But what is now known as Impact Communities or the MHU “training” have long thrived on a kind of notorious edginess that attracted mainstream media coverage. That media coverage, such as the Guardian news video below, has arguably been a form of free marketing for “Frank and Dave.”

 

The New York Times article by Gary Rivlin is still referenced by Frank and Dave in their marketing over 5 years since it was first published. The quote below is from a message of theirs dated 5.12.2020. The original report, which was unpacked via the MHLivingNews article linked below that quote, was cited by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in a footnote their 2014 white paper on manufactured housing.

Per Frank and Dave via MHU, In 2014 the New York Times brought out a huge story about Frank & Dave and their success in building one of the largest mobile home park portfolios in the U.S. They even declared that Frank & Dave are the “best thing going in affordable housing when the nation’s need for low-cost places to live has never been greater”. But what else did the writer, Gary Rivlin, find in his research about the industry. In this episode we’re going to review the discussion we had with Gary after the article came out, and share some quotes of his opinions on what we do and how we do it. Since the New York Times is known to not typically be pro-business, there are certain strengths to the mobile home park industry that converted even a self-professed antagonist to be a big fan of “trailer parks”.”

To see the analysis on that during the original time-frame, see the report linked below. Note that the understanding of this publication of such issues has evolved since that time, but the insights are still useful.

 

SensationalisticColdHardLessonsofMobileHomeUNewYorkTimesGaryRivlinManufacturedHomeLivingNewsReviewMHProNews
https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/sensationalistic-cold-hard-lessons-of-mobile-home-u-new-york-times-article-by-gary-rivlin-draws-manufactured-home-industry-ire-desire-and-fire/

 

Agree or disagree with the methodology, businessman Donald J. Trump noted well in advance of his bid to be president that bad publicity could be more useful than no media coverage at all. Controversy sells is a lesson that Frank and Dave apparently learned.

DonaldJTrumpGoodPublicityPreferableBadMediaNewsQuoteControversySellsManufacturedHomeProNews
There is a constant push-pull going on with the news media. It spans the left-right political divide. The distinction between facts and mere opinion is just one of the important ways of maintaining clarity on what the truth is on often important subjects.

As for Frank [Rolfe], he takes heat for stating facts and truth publicly when others don’t.  He’s the Donald Trump of our industry.  There’s nothing mean or villainous about stating the truth.  In fact, most appreciate it when you do.” – Kurt Kelley.

Indeed, the quote above from Kurt Kelley, J.D. – a service provider and colleague of the controversial communities duo – provided to MHProNews claimed in that Frank Rolfe was ‘the Donald Trump of manufactured home communities.’ That’s a claim the 45th president might eschew.

 

 

Frank Rolfe Blasts MHI for Poor Media Engagement, Industry Reactions

 

Not dissimilarly, MHAction’s brand is based in good measure on getting free media too. When a land lease property has a stiff rent hike, MHAction almost magically appears to “organize” residents and “train” them to protest in an “effective” manner.

In Layton, Utah, a lawsuit by Impact Communities against their own residents and a group associated with MHAction and a countersuit by residents was initiated. Those suits were in time quietly settled. Much could be done to unpack this episode, but for the sake of brevity, a simple point will be made. Was the suit by Rolfe and Reynolds led Impact designed as an intimidation tool against other residents? If so, is there a possible Hobbs Act and/or RICO element to the legal tussle?

 

 

Pulling Back the Veil on MHAction, Senator Elizabeth Warren…

But who backs MHAction? Where do they get their paid talent and support?

MHAction’s Ken Borden was the subject of prior research linked here and here. In brief, Borden spent time learning activism with New York Communities for Change. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA-D) spoke to a meeting of those groups, as is shown in the still photo from a video below.

 

StillFromMHActionVideoMHActionLogoSenatorElizabethWarrenDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews

 

Warren of course was a 2020 Democratic hopeful, who finally dropped out to endorse her rival and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Warren, it will be recalled, ripped in mainstream media the business practices of Havenpark Capital as well as Frank and Dave’s operations. Those documents from Senator Warren are linked here. Her views on antitrust are examined in a report linked below.

 

SenatorElizabethWarrenPOTUSDonaldJTrumpAdminAntitrustOpenMarketsSupportAffordableManufacturedHomesMHLivingNews
https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/who-will-act-will-senator-elizabeth-warren-and-or-the-trump-administration-act-to-restore-open-markets-thereby-supporting-affordable-manufactured-homes/

 

An oddity worth mentioning is that neither the now-suspended Warren campaign for the Democratic nomination for president nor her senate staff seemed interested in applying her own proposal for antitrust action. Warren – in the report shown above – makes an able argument for robust antitrust action. Which begs the question. Since Senator Warren is well informed on this issue, why has that knowledge not been robustly deployed? Where are the hearings with Senator Warren or others calling on the DOJ or state AGs to use antitrust law against seemingly self-proclaimed monopolists like Rolfe, Clayton and others?

WarrenBuffettPhotoKevinClaytonPhotoQuoteWarrenVeryCompetitiveMoatCompetitiveMoatDeepenWidenMoatPlanMakeDifficultOnCompaetitorsManufacturedHomeProNews
https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/warren-buffetts-moat-per-kevin-clayton-ceo-clayton-homes-interview-transcript-video-affordable-housing-and-manufactured-homes/
FrankRolfeQuoteSureItSoundsUnfairButThereisNothingIllegalAboutItIfyouLikeMonopolyMonopoliesMobileHomeParksManufacturedHomeProNews
The principle of separating the wheat from the chaff is necessary with all people, organizations and things for the past 2000 years. See the report linked here.

While there may be a range of reasons for Warren not publicly teaming up with other Democrats who on paper have complained about the business practices of Warren Buffett led Berkshire Hathaway brands operating in manufactured housing, it is worth mentioning that Buffett allies have contributed to her campaign.

As readers explore the following, keep in mind that some of the tips involve information that if revealed would likely expose the off-the-record source. Thus, a picture will be pieced together using an array of well documented facts. These facts will arguably underscore the allegation that Dave Reynolds apparently denies – i.e. that on some level, they are coordinating with MHAction – for whatever his denial may be worth.

More specifically, Dave Reynolds and Frank Rolfe were asked about this allegation: “…that you fellows and MHAction have purported colluded to stage controversies that result in vexing headlines and calls for rent control and other legislation.” Reynolds and Rolfe said no more than what is quoted from Reynolds as the opening quotation in this report.

This is 100% untrue and complete nonsense,” stated Reynolds to MHProNews in response to the allegation. As was noted above, MHAction has not yet responded to that same allegation, though they had ample time to do so.

Informed sources have tipped MHProNews on a variety of topics that related to MHAction, Frank Rolfe and interconnected people and organizations.

Paltering is described by Google’s online dictionary like this, To “equivocate or prevaricate in action or speech.” It means being evasive, dissemble, mislead or slyly lie in a manner that may at first appear to be true.

Advocate Donald Tye Jr. mentioned to MHProNews the value of probing “interlocking directorates” in investigating the problems that have hobbled the manufactured home industry for years. Readers can discern the value of that keen insight in the report below.

The “Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati” – the law firm at WSGR.com – has among their self-proclaimed strengths “Annually rank among the top M&A advisors in the U.S. and represent more technology enterprises in mergers and acquisitions than any other U.S. law firm.” The importance of this will be established further below. But briefly, this is arguably a ‘liberal’ firm that is actively protecting the efforts of more consolidation and monopolization.

WilsonSonsiniGoodrichRosatiLawFirmWikiMergersAcquistionsM+AantitrustmonopoliesManufacturedHomeProNews
More on this law firm below, and its connection with a key MHAction personality.

On February 29, 2020 the report linked below explored Berkshire Hathaway board member Ronald L. Olson, part of the Munger, Tolles, Olson (MTO) legal team. ‘Name partner’ Charlie Munger is Berkshire Hathaway’s vice chairman and the longtime colleague of chairman Warren Buffett. Once more, as the report linked below establishes, this “progressive” firm is purportedly actively defending and advancing efforts of consolidation and monopolization. Both this firm and the other support candidates that seem to take positions against what the firms do.

Rephrased, they arguably support head-fakes and window dressing.

AMLawMungerTollesOlsonLLPIsProgressivePerhapsRadicallyProgressiveMTOLawFirmLogoBerkshireHathawayBoardofDirectorsRonaldLOlsonManufacturedHomeProNews

RonaldLTolsonPhotoMungerTollesOlsonLLPlogoBuffettsBoardBerkshireHathawayLogoInterlockingDirectoratesRonaldOlsonManufacturedHousingTruthHidingPlainSightMHProNews

https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/buffetts-board-berkshire-hathaway-interlocking-directorates-ronald-olson-manufactured-housing-and-truth-hiding-in-plain-sight/
ScottOlsonOlsonAdvocacyGroupLobbyingManufacturedHousingInstituteMHIOpenSecretManufacturedHomeProNews
See the report linked above for more details. Coincidences? Or a pattern?

As a reminder, MTO proudly posted the comment by AM Law that said: “MungerTolles & Olson is progressive – perhaps radically progressive.”

Rephrased, MTO is clearly connected to Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett. As MHProNews previously documented, MHAction is funded by the Tides, a progressive nonprofit which in turn has counted Warren Buffett as their largest donor for years. Another big donor to the Tides is George Soros connected donations.

WarrenBuffettTidesNoVoFoundationMHActionGeorgeSorosManufacturedHomeLivingNews
If you go to the MHAction home page on this date, the Tides Center is cited in the footer of their website. Rephrased, the Tides is a funder for MHAction. As the donation graphic reflects, Warren Buffett and George Soros have for years been among the biggest donors to the Tides. It’s ‘dark money,’ but it flows from Buffett, Soros and other billionaire allies who posture being ‘progressive’ while arguably working to expand their business interests using such pop up activist groups as MHAction.

 

While none of those links are mentioned by John Oliver’s viral and errantly named “Mobile Homes” video, the video weaves MHAction, Buffett and Soros backed activism and several MHI members together. Some 7.9 million have seen this video that features Clayton Homes, Warren Buffett, Frank Rolfe and other MHI members – plus MHAction backed ‘research.’

 

HBOJohnOliverLastWeekTonightMobileHomesVideoManufacturedHomeCommunitiesFactCheckMobileManufacturedHomeLivingNewsDBN
https://www.manufacturedhomelivingnews.com/hbos-john-oliver-on-last-week-tonight-mobile-homes-video-manufactured-home-communities-fact-check/
ProsperityNowNonprofitsSustainJohnOliversMobileHomesVideoInTheirReportsManufacturedHomeProNews
https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/prosperity-now-nonprofits-sustain-john-olivers-mobile-homes-video-in-their-reports/

With the reminder that the principle of separating the wheat from the chaff must be kept in mind with all people, organizations and things, the following pull quotes from a lengthy interview with Senator Warren is below.

 

District of Corruption – an Interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA-D) from Progressive The Intercept

As was previously noted, May 28, 2019 Senator Warren (MA-D) and Congressional Representative Dave Loebsack (IA-D) issued letters to several MHI member connected firms, including Havenpark Capital and Frank and Dave’s operation. Warren’s letter – linked here – includes the footnote below.

2 Private Equity Stakeholder Project, MH Action, and Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund, “Private Equity Giants Converge on Manufactured Homes: How private equity is manufacturing homelessness & communities are fighting back,” February 2019.”

As was stated earlier, Warren has addressed an audience that included New York Communities for Change and MHAction.

The pull quotes that follow from the full interview linked here dated June 8 2018 are useful in understanding how paltering and posturing works in practice.

In what follows “EW” is Senator Elizabeth Warren while “MH” in this context is Intercept interviewer Mehdi Hasan.

Note that several of the statements made are accurate or fair descriptors of what occurs in Washington, D.C. as politics and big business meet.

But what is unstated is Senator Warren’s own ties to those monied interests or how she has arguably played the very game that she is decrying in the interview that follows.

 

 

USSenatorElizabethWarrenIowaCityPressCitzenWallStreetManufacturedHousingCommunityPrivateEquityMHProNewsQuoteMarkManufacturedHomeLivingNewsEW

“This is about people who feather their own nests instead of the public good.”

“Rich and powerful corporations figured out decades ago that they could have a business model that was about: Oh, let’s come up with a great product, let’s sell that product, let’s put some money into R & D and let’s put some money into capturing government to work for us, to make the rules on us just a little easier.

Because it turns out that investing money and lobbying Washington, investing money in influencing Washington, invest, hey, $100 million and it can pay back in the billions.”

“What’s my next gig? What’s my next job? During writing Dodd-Frank, the financial regulations, do you know that there were 125 former congressmen and top legislative aides who were lobbying? And what were they lobbying on behalf of? The big banks, to make those regulations as weak as possible.”

“I tell you one thing we could do for openers. How about if we put in place for the president, for senators, for members of the House, for the heads of all of the agencies, for all of the cabinet officials and for the top aides a lifetime ban on lobbying?”

MH: Why would people, why would your colleagues in this place, here on Capitol Hill, including your Democratic colleagues, why would they vote for this? This is turkeys voting for Christmas.

EW: So, so the question is: Can we get enough American people to demand that they vote for it? That’s what democracy is about.”

(Note: on the above think “posturing” a seemingly good idea without having to actually accomplish the goal.)

 

MH: They [Wall Street and big corporate interests] haven’t been reluctant recipients of that kind of money. Barack Obama, when he was running for president in 2008, actually raised more money from Wall Street than John McCain, the Republican challenger did. We know about the Clintons and all of their donors — some dodgy, some not. You know, Senator Robert Menendez who won his primary this week, who’s been accused of all sorts of things involving corruption and bribery and gifts. So would you accept that your party, even when it was in office, is if not more guilty, as guilty? Nearly as guilty?

EW: Oh, come on. This is not about comparisons.

 

Editor’s note: after blasting the Koch brothers…

 

MH: They [Koch] built an entire echo chamber [of nonprofit groups that supported their interests].

EW: They [Koch] built an entire industry that doubted the science.

MH: And the Democrats don’t have anything [Koch] equivalent. George Soros sadly —

EW: No, no. We do not have the equivalent of that.”

MH: So on the bankers front, we have the Dodd-Frank law, 10 years on from the financial crash, parts of it are repealed in a vote in the Senate: 17 Democrats voted for that; 33 Democrats in the House voted to repeal parts of that legislation. Why?

EW: So this all started, supposedly, with community bankers, the small banks. And they argued that the regulations put in place following Dodd-Frank were too complicated for them. And basically, by about three years ago, four years ago, pretty much Republicans and Democrats who worked in this area said: OK, we could make some changes for the community banks…”

MH: So tell me why 17 Democrats in the Senate and 33 Democrats in the House voted to repeal this. Was it money? Was it the influence of money? What we’ve been talking about in this interview?

EW: They helped make this a riskier system and I think that is a bad decision. All day long, they said they were there for the community banks, but using the community banks as human shields to be able to get giveaways for giant banks was wrong.”

MH “…Are you considering, are you willing to run against him for president in 2020?

EW: I’m not running for president. I’m running for Senate.

….

MH: But you’re not ruling out the 2020 presidential run.

EW: I am not running for president. Let me make this pitch because I think it’s so powerfully important.

….

 

EW …As Democrats, as progressives, we cannot take our eye off the ball and say, “Oh, it’s all going to be about 2020.” No, it’s going to be about 2018, right now.

MH: Fine, but you’re not ruling out 2020.

EW: I am not running for president.

##

That last statement by Warren has proven to be demonstrably untrue.

DecieveSomeoneUsingTruthfulStatementsPalteringQuoteDeceptionWIthTruthQuoteManufacturedHomeProNews

 

Additional Insights, MHProNews Analysis and Commentary

When a person or group with malign motivation is given enough time and ‘rope’ to operate with, that individual or organization will often reveal themselves through their own carefully monitored words and deeds.

Rephrased, liars and deceivers will often metaphorically hang themselves with their own rope. It is difficult for a public figure to easily keep up with prior deceptive statements.

The challenge is that in order to detect deception, one must first be attentive to details and the history of who said what, when, where and why. ‘How much’ can become an element too. Put differently, reporters should do what the classical norms of journalism requires – Who, What, When, Where, Why and How – and then report that as best they can with integrity.

For some years, a mixed message was put forth from Messers Frank and Dave extolling the importance and virtues of affordable housing found in the form of manufactured home communities. They and seeming devotees to their methods – such as fellow MHI/NCC member Havenpark Capital – bought land lease communities posturing “persevering” affordable housing while they often rapidly made the properties they acquired less affordable despite what residents might refer to an modest improvements at the property level.

A longtime MHI member who had served on the boards of that organization who also with ties to their National Communities Council (NCC) as well recently told MHProNews that said member knew of no examples of any disciplinary action under the Arlington, VA based trade group’s so-called Code of Ethical Conduct. Nor was that pro-MHI professional aware of any discussion about applying those rules to apparent violators such as Havenpark, or the firms operated by Frank and Dave.

Elisabeth “Liz” Voigt, J.D., is shown on the MHAction website on May 7, 2019 as follows. “MHAction is staffed by Co-Directors Kevin Borden and Liz Voigt…”

Voight’s pedigree, based on her own LinkedIn profile, is replete with several left-of-center progressive education and positions.

Notice. This isn’t about someone’s personal politics, which they are entitled to hold as an American. Rather, it is about the notion that deceptive practices are allegedly being used that involves Voigt and others. Those practices posture one thing, but arguably deliver something quite different. As ‘the wires’ and mails are reportedly used, RICO and other laws may apply.

It should be noted that among the firms that intersect with her bio are MTO, with its obvious ties to Buffett and Berkshire.

 

To illustrate Voigt’s and MHAction’s left-wing roots, supported by Soros and Buffett, are the following items.

A 4.19.2018 post on City-Data notes that “The Center for Popular Democracy gets some of their funding from Democracy Alliance, which is heavily funded by George Soros.”

A list for “Center for Popular Democracy Partners” on that date includes these state affiliates of MHAction.

  • Manufactured Housing Action (MHAction) (California)
  • Manufactured Housing Action (MHAction) (Delaware)
  • Manufactured Housing Action (MHAction) (Florida)
  • Manufactured Housing Action (MHAction) (Illinois)
  • Manufactured Housing Action (MHAction) (Massachusetts)
  • Manufactured Housing Action (MHAction) (Utah)

The left-of-center New York Times is among the media outlets that reported on October 17, 2017 that George Soros transferred some $18 billion to Open Society alone. The NY Times on July 17, 2018 said that “George Soros Bet Big on Liberal Democracy by funding leftist activist groups.”

OSF’s operations are notoriously complex, and in 2016 the foundation was labeled the least transparent “think tank” in the United States reviewed by NGO Monitor, an OSF-funded (OSF=Open Society Foundations) transparency group.” So said the right-of-center nonprofit monitor Influence Watch.

According to Influence Watch,In his early life Soros was deeply influenced by philosopher Karl Popper’s concept of the “open society.” [12] Based on Popper’s philosophy, and despite having made his fortune in the financial markets, Soros argues, “the spread of market values into all areas of life is endangering our open and democratic society” and that “the main enemy of the open society,” is no longer communism but rather capitalism[13]

 As of 2015, the Open Society Foundations [OSF] was labeled as one of the world’s largest philanthropic organizations, with branches in 37 countries. [21] When the organization was created, “Soros said that he had no interest in creating an endowed foundation that would exist in perpetuity.”[22] However in 2005 he “changed his mind,” announcing that the foundation would in fact “go on in perpetuity,” continuing to pursue Soros’ agenda well into the future. [23] Philanthropy observers noted that Open Society Foundations could one day “be the largest in the world, rivaling that of the Gates Foundation, which stands at $43 billion.” [24]” Ibid.

Rephrased, sources on both sides of the left-right divide have made similar observations with respect to Soros’ funding ‘pop up’ activist groups.  But there is ample evidence that others involved in manufactured housing have done so too. Longer term MHProNews readers already know that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has its namesakes and Warren Buffett as trustees.

WarrenBuffettBillMelindaGatesFoundationManufacturedHomeProNews
Bill Gates stepped down from the Berkshire board in March 2020. But he was on that board for most of the time that Manufactured Housing was part of the Berkshire portfolio of brands.

Buffett, who is chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, which owns manufactured housing brands such as Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage, NAI Commercial and an array of other real estate, finance and suppliers arguably dominates the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI).

Fox News reported on April 17, 2019 about a then new “…report, by conservative watchdog Capital Research Center, describes a band of nonprofits operating under the banner of Washington-based philanthropy company Arabella Advisors. Those “pop up groups” are housed in four Arabella-controlled “sister” nonprofits, according to the report: the New Venture Fund, Sixteen Thirty Fund, Hopewell Fund and Windward Fund.”

Together, these groups form an interlocking network of ‘dark money’ pop-up groups and other fiscally sponsored projects, all afloat in a half-billion-dollar ocean of cash,” the Capital Research Center report says, stated Fox.The real puppeteer, though, is Arabella Advisors, which has managed to largely conceal its role in coordinating so much of the professional Left’s infrastructure under a mask of ‘philanthropy.’”

Let’s note that MHProNews’ interest in these groups is less about politics, and more about how Warren Buffett, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg and others use such groups to arguably advance agendas in ways often harming the manufactured housing industry’s independents and consumers.

 

 

On September 23, 2019, MHProNews reported on this same left-leaning group, noting its ties to not only George Soros, but also to Warren Buffett’s donations.

 

Arabella Advisors – Big Money in Dark Shadows, Warren Buffett Ties – Capital Research Group

Capital Research Center (CRC) document linked here states that donations totaling some “$32 million from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation since 2012, nearly $19 million from the Wyss Foundation since 2010, and a staggering $150 million from the Gates Foundation since 2009.”

Rephrased, because Buffett has donated to the Gates Foundation, there are at least two different streams of dark money flowing into Arabella.

Left-leaning Mother Jones noted on Mar 14, 2019 that “…recently, dark money has favored Democrats.” The Center for Public Integrity, funded in part by Buffett, noted on Feb 20, 2018 that “Democrats love decrying “dark money” – political contributions…” but they are getting hypocritically getting the benefits of the dark money they posture opposing.

A key point is that the Tides – or other left-leaning nonprofits supported by billionaires such as Buffett, Gates, Soros and Bloomberg – are impacting manufactured housing. These connections would not be known without this type of ‘follow the money’ research.

 

Buffett’s Board – Berkshire Hathaway, Interlocking Directorates, Ronald Olson – Manufactured Housing and Truth Hiding in Plain Sight

 

Summary

The evidence from the principles cited, as well as from sources across the left-right spectrum reveals the following. In no specific order of importance.

A)   By accident or design, Frank and Dave (Rolfe and Reynolds) – as well as several other so-called predatory or ‘black hat’ MHI/NCC members – are arguably benefiting from MHAction’s activism.

B)   That benefit is from fomenting new regulations or laws that creating additional barriers of entry, maintenance, or exit which favors larger firms over smaller ones.

C)   The rationale and methodology of MHAction, as well as their allies, is arguably a form of paltering or spin. There is a mix of true, shaded and false information and proposals that they advance. Rent control is a key item on their agenda, but rent control fails at its purported goal.

D)   Per sources, MHAction will be ‘attacking’ certain MHI members, with Frank and Dave at the top of their list.

E)   Instead of arguing for strong antitrust action, or for the full and proper enforcement of other existing laws such as the MHIA and DTS, MHAction pushes rent control instead.

F)    There are logically only two possibilities when it comes to the tip from an informed source that alleges that MHAction and Rolfe and Reynolds are working or coordinating with each other on some level. It is either true or not. But what the above evidence reflects is that either way, MHAction’s protesting and activism is benefiting Impact Communities and others like them.

G)   Not unlike MHAction, MHI – which by virtue of their board of directors and as measured by the dues structures – are dominated by a relative few ‘big boy’ brands, likewise fails to robustly promote the full and proper implementation of the MHIA, DTS and antitrust laws.

H)   Warren Buffett, George Soros, Michael Bloomberg and other billionaires have their fingerprints on these activist groups.

I)    Rolfe and Reynolds have obvious ties to Berkshire brands. They are also MHI/NCC members.

J)    Per sources in MHI, there is no known evidence that MHI’s so-called code of ethical conduct is being used to reign in the negative media and push by lawmakers for more rent control, due to the types of problematic behaviors of certain of their own key members.

That list of evidence is a lot of coincidences. Using the late Senator Proxmire (WI-D) “There are no coincidences in Washington [DC]” and “Follow the money.”

When you follow the evidence and line up the facts there are too many coincidences to be dismissed out of hand. While much of this happens to involve Democrats, that’s not to say that some in the GOP might be involved at various occasions too. This isn’t about politics, it should be about following the evidence.

Bottom line, there is ample evidence that a scheme has been deployed that benefits a few larger firms in manufactured housing. It mirrors similar ploys that use dark money and special interest lobbying that benefits a few at significant harm to the many.

The solution? It can be summed up in three words. “Enforce the law.”

 

ItIsEasierToFoolPeopleThanToConvinceThemThatTheyHaveBeenFooledMarkTwainSamuelClemensQuoteMastheadMHProNews

FollowTheMoneyPayMoreAttentionToWhatPeopleDoThanWhatTheySayMartyLavin6MillionYachtManufacturedHousingIndustryDailyBusinessNews600

YouCanFoolAllofthePeopleSomeoftheTimeSomeofthePeopleAlloftheTimeButCantFoolAllofthePeopleAlloftheTimeAbrahamLincolnAbeLincolnQuoteMHproNews

TheSystemIsRiggedSenatorElizabethWarrenPresidentDonaldJTrumpSenatorBernieSandersManufacturedHomeLivingNews
They often have entirely different proposed solutions, but they each have pointed to several of the same facts. That alone is a big clue.

 

It could all be a series of amazing coincidences that benefit a few at high cost to the many. But then, some believed that the moon could be made of cheese. “We Provide, You Decide.” ©

 

P.S.

When MHProNews argues that existing laws should be enforced, this from Stimmel Law. There are two essential elements of Hobbs Act:

  • Interference with commerce;
  • Extortion.”

That can include extortion by fear.

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CHECKLIST

For insights on how that could apply to manufactured housing, click on the prior report linked here. But a snapshot could be advanced based upon this quote KCRG news: “People are afraid to speak out,” said Candi Evans as saying during an interview in a North Liberty, Iowa manufactured home community.

 

 

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We recommend that news tips NOT use company, nonprofit or organizational emails or cell phones. To report a news tip, click the image above or send an email to iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com – To help us spot your message in our volume of email, please put the words NEWS TIP or COMMENTS in the subject line.

The links below the byline are relevant to this topic.  © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)

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All on Capitol Hill were welcoming and interested with the discussion of manufactured housing related issues on our 12.3.2019 meetings. But Texas Congressman Al Green’s office was tremendous in their hospitality. Our son’s hand is on a package that included the Constitution of the United States and other goodies. MHProNews has worked with people and politicos across the left-right divide.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.

Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.

http://latonykovach.com

Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach

Related References:

The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.

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