The truth can be stranger than fiction. Prepare to scratch your head in wonder, to be stunned, or both. But the evidence will be provided, and you can decide for yourself whatever you think it means to you, your business, the manufactured home industry, and our nation that is seeking quality, safe, and affordable housing.
Doug Ryan has advocated for manufactured homes in a variety of ways for CFED cum Prosperity Now since February 2013, according to his LinkedIn profile.
But Ryan has also been a harsh critic of Berkshire Hathaway brands engaged in manufactured home lending, as well as Clayton Homes’ sales practices.
Writing in Shelter Force, Ryan pointed to the Center for Public Integrity’s journalism, which had combined with a writer at the Seattle Times.
Note Ryan’s headline?
That headline and the opening paragraph should seem odd-at-best on the surface.
Because CFED turned Prosperity Now, has received funding from Warren Buffett, via so-called “dark money” channels. One example is funding that flowed from Buffett via the Tides Foundation to Prosperity Now/CFED
MHLivingNews, in a previous exclusive, reported that CFED also had another conflict-of-interest that had gone undisclosed, because they reportedly received money from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) during the Obama Administration era.
There’s been no clearly visible disclosure by Ryan or CFED/Prosperity Now in their published commentaries about Clayton Homes and Berkshire Hathaway manufactured home lending regarding dark money funding from Buffett. Just look at Ryan’s writing in Shelter Force, American Banker, or other similar Op-Eds. Do you see a disclosure there about where some of that money for Prosperity Now comes from? Why isn’t that disclosure made transparently?
But perhaps the most stunning revelation is that some of those ‘charitable’ millions from Warren Buffett’s billions have gone to – wait for it – the Center for Public Integrity.
Rephrased, Buffett’s millions were used in part to fund the print and digital media attacks on Chairman Buffett led Berkshire’s Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF). Others in media then picked those stories up, and ran with it. Among them, Doug Ryan at Prosperity Now.
To a normal person, that may boggle the mind. Why would Buffett effectively pay news media and non-profits to attack his own businesses?
But the facts are that:
• The Center for Public Integrity (teamed with the Seattle Times),
• CFED/Prosperity Now, and
are all among the operations that have attacked manufactured housing professionals in a variety of ways. There are more, but let’s just look at those 3 operations for the purpose of this post. Each of the above were paid via the Tides Foundation. Not that it’s necessary for the point of this article, but how many other dark money paths might be involved, linking Buffett, his friends, and brands to attacks or stalls on our HUD Code manufactured home industry?
Just as a big company can demonstrably better withstand regulations than a smaller firm, arguably, a larger company can better handle negative media than smaller companies.
Similarly, the biggest company in an industry can reflect well-meh-or poorly on the balance of an industry. That’s what Ryan purportedly does, throw the others in by implication with Buffett and his brands, at least in this Shelter Force article.
Buffett has said he has confidence in manufactured housing and that’s why he gets into an industry. But he also plainly says that he wants to grow what he calls his Moat.
Oh, What a Tangled Web…
Manufactured housing has struggled under a multiple-layered headwinds that includes, but are not necessarily limited to:
• Image/stigma/media, and
• Zoning/placement, among others. Much of this can be boiled down to misinformation. So why has Buffett’s millions often clouded, or failed to clearly clarify, that misinformation?
You can ascribe whatever motives you like to the above facts. But logically, when Buffett’s money keeps going to the Tides Foundation for years, which Tides in turn gives money to:
• The Center for Public Integrity (which teamed up with the Seattle Times),
• Prosperity Now/formerly CFED, and
• MHAction, among others.
There is arguably only one logical conclusion. Mr. Buffett must like what Tides and these other groups named above do with his money, because he’s given them millions. That money-flow spans the years.
As the Daily Business News on MHProNews has previously documented, Berkshire Hathaway has dozens of local and regional newspapers, the BH Media Group. Why does BH Media brands seldom cover manufactured housing in a way that clarifies the many misconceptions about our industry?
Against that backdrop, see the new and prior reports that are linked immediately and further below.
Everyone has had the experience of realizing that something that they had believed about a person, thing or group was untrue. There are scores of reasons that explain why and how that phenomenon of discovery occurs. But the reality is that it does happen, so it needs no more explanation than what’s just been given.
That’s plenty to digest this Saturday edition of “News through the lens of manufactured homes, and factory-built housing,” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, analysis, and commentary.)
(Related Reports are further below. Third-party images and content are provided under fair use guidelines.)
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