Whatever your political leanings may be, the lesson of Judicial Watch could be summed up like this. Sustained pushback can pay real dividends.
Much of what follows will mention various Democrats in government, so to make the record clear, MHProNews notes for new readers that this publication has spotlighted recent reports of apparently corrupt trades during the COVID19 outbreak made by both Democrats and Republican lawmakers. Additionally, the report below makes it plain that where MHProNews sees problematic or arguably corrupt behavior by a GOP-Trump appointee, this publication will call the balls and strikes based on evidence.
Rephrased, facts are what they are. The lived mantra here is to faithfully report what others have said, follow the facts, follow the money-trail and apply logic.
The examples of steps made by Judicial Watch are thus relevant to a range of thoughtful manufactured home industry professionals that ought to include Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green and independents supporters.
With that clarification, Judicial Watch (JW) is a potential template for manufactured housing professionals, investors, affordable housing advocates, ethical public officials and manufactured homeowners who are being badly shortchanged by an arguably rigged system.
In an email to MHProNews, the nonprofit legal action group revealed specific examples of steps they are taking to advance their agenda. The message said in part as follows.
- Judicial Watch is investigating and suing federal agencies for documents revealing a conspiracy to spy on, discredit, prosecute and drive President Trump from office. We are determined that the American people learn the truth about the Deep State’s unlawful effort to destroy the Trump presidency, and to hold those responsible to account!
- Judicial Watch lawyers are now gathering evidence and preparing for trial in a potentially precedent-setting court challenge to San Francisco’s infamous and deadly “sanctuary” policy that allows illegal aliens to avoid deportation.
- Judicial Watch lawyers continue to fight voter fraud, which liberals want to pretend doesn’t exist, and we continue to build on our record of successful litigation in Ohio, Kentucky and California by suing the state of North Carolina and putting 4 additional states on notice (California, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Virginia) that we are prepared to sue if they do not immediately take reasonable steps to clean their voter rolls as required by federal law.
Judicial Watch continues fighting to hold corrupt officials in the Obama administration – like Hillary Clinton – responsible for their actions so they don’t get a “pass” on accountability. We recently received unprecedented approval from a federal court to depose Hillary Clinton in person and under oath about her email system and critical Benghazi documents!”
Additionally, the JW website says the following.
– “Judicial Watch Subpoenas Google In Hillary Clinton Email Lawsuit (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it served a subpoena, authorized by a DC federal court, on Google to produce all Clinton emails from a Google account believed to contain former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails…”
– “From Tom Fitton’s Breitbart article: As I said in my recent video update segment on the Coronavirus, you can’t cure or end the pandemic by killing our economy – pure and simple. When it comes to the coronavirus, the best way to get people on their feet is to get them back to work.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton appeared on “Lou Dobbs Tonight” on the Fox Business Network to discuss the #coronavirus pandemic…”
The nonprofit organization’s about us page states the following.
“Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. Through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach.
The motto of Judicial Watch is “Because no one is above the law”. To this end, Judicial Watch uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities.
Litigation and the civil discovery process not only uncover information for the education of the American people on anti-corruption issues, but can also provide a basis for civil authorities to criminally prosecute corrupt officials…”
How do these examples shed light on the struggles impacting and limiting the performance of the manufactured housing industry?
MHProNews Analysis and Commentary
The manufactured housing industry has several potential advantages legally often highlighted by the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR). By contrast those same potential advantages are arguably obscured by what a long-time insider at the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) has called the “mendacity” of the Arlington, VA trade group.
Not only are whistleblowers, document leakers and anti-corruption tipsters shedding light on several MHI related problems, but so too has Marty Lavin, a longtime and award-winning MHI member.
Rephrased, MHI postures one thing, but often does another. The case can be made that MHI at times does the ‘right thing.’ But a closer analysis reveals it is only after sustained pressure to do what they ought to have done from the outset on a given issue.
MHARR can be described as fighters, just as Judicial Watch is made up of professionals willing to expose and battle corruption where they see it.
As MHProNews has periodically reported, MHARR has used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) pleadings in a manner similar to Judicial Watch. MHARR has done so to expose problems involving manufactured housing.
That begs the question. Why hasn’t MHI – which is several times larger and much better funded than MHARR – taken similar stances to press for the full and proper implementation of laws that already exist?
The embarrassment of MHI’s CEO Lesli Gooch, Ph.D, and company is that they have often proven their access, but have failed to use that access to promote the solutions that the industry needs. Rephrased, MHI’s access arguably reveals their corrupt and duplicitous practices.
If the good laws that already exist were fully enforced, such enforcement of the Duty to Serve manufactured housing or the Manufactured Housing Improvement Act (MHIA) of 2000 that could cause manufactured housing to boom.
Indeed, as MHProNews reported on 4.15.2020, a university level researcher told us about their perspective that manufactured housing should boom post-pandemic. On paper, that case can be made – but it comes with a big if. That ‘if’ is will MHI either have a house-cleaning, and actually do their self-described mission, or the industry needs to supplant them with a post-production trade group that can work with MHARR, which is a producer’s trade group.
Instead of strong growth, MHI and several of its key members have been carefully documented by MHProNews and MHLivingNews to have as a primary aim the steady consolidation of the industry into the hands of just a few larger “insider” players. Examples of that in the words of those engaged in that behavior will follow shortly.
MHI’s former president is just one of examples of polite pushback against his own trade group.
That statement was made on his exit, purportedly before his non-disclosure agreement with MHI kicked in. In fairness, an association executive has a fine line to walk when they find themselves in an arguably corrupt scenario.
MHI’s former senior vice president (SVP) Jason Boehlert made a politically incorrect admission in writing to MHProNews. Too few, this writer for a time included, immediately grasped the stunning nature of Boehlert’s statement. What Boehlert did is confirm what MHARR President and CEO Mark Weiss later christened the “Illusion of Motion” at MHI.
Behavioral analysis of MHI and their insiders reveal a series of manipulative techniques that create the appearance of efforts while failing to advance the industry’s true potential as stated years ago by then Harvard Fellow Eric Belsky at the prestigious Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS).Belsky touted manufactured housing’s ability to surpass conventional construction.
It is worth noting that Belsky left Harvard to go to the Federal Reserve.
Behavior analysis and the manipulative techniques used by propagandists are a useful interpretive key to understand MHI. For instance, the technique of the big lie is to repeat a statement over and over again until people believe it. That method of the big lie has been used in the U.S. as well as in Nazi Germany, the former Soviet Union or by others in nations and organizations today.
Habit formation and herding methods are other manipulative methods that MHI has arguably deployed. Let’s note that deploying such methods may on occasion be nothing more than this or that staffer doing what their big-boy bosses tell them to do.
MHI leakers and whistleblowers have ripped the bandage of the absurd claim of “superb” leadership posited earlier this year by Tim Williams. The leadership of Gooch, not unlike her predecessor Richard “Dick” Jennison, is marked by paltering behavior and posturing that they and their board member bosses are unwilling or unable to publicly defend.
Meanwhile, the survival of numbers of manufactured housing independents is at stake. The cold-hearted behavior of those who are selling out independents who give their dues in good faith which are arguably undermining their own interests are stunning.
A source with years of ties to MHI told MHProNews yesterday that had it not been for decades of MHARR’s efforts, the U.S. manufactured housing would look like the American automobile industry, with only three domestic producers instead of the dozens that once existed years ago.
MHProNews checked with MHARR, and there has reportedly been an increasing number of contacts by MHI members to that organization. Where those contacts lead time will tell. But the fact that a growing number of MHI members are questioning their own organization is a potentially healthy sign.
That same MHI-tied source said to MHProNews that Mark Bowersox, “MHI 2.0” president, has as part of his mission the undermining of MHARR in as many ways as possible.
JW – What Pushback Looks Like
Judicial Watch is an example of what pushback looks like. So too is MHARR.
But as MHARR’s Weiss recently told MHProNews, what they lack in the fight to make manufactured housing great again is a post-production trade group they could partner with to fight the purported corruption of MHI.
It is MHARR on the trade association level that is consistent in fighting for a level playing field. But in fairness, Washington based MHARR are a production-focused trade group. It is MHI that claims to be both a production and a post-production group that represents ‘all segments’ of factory-built housing. But that may also be part of the problem, as will be shown further below.
Meanwhile, MHI has been mute on significant issues like the reemergence of the DOE energy rule. By contrast, it was MHARR who successfully fought it in the first place.
Indeed, the Sierra Club suit reflects the financial support of people like billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffett, as MHProNews documented.
Rephrased, what Buffett and certain billionaire buddies like Bill Gates, George Soros and Bloomberg have repeatedly proven is that they support the opposite of what Judicial Watch favors. Instead of pushing for the rule of law, the ‘billionaires club’ impacting MHVille uses nonprofits and/or lawsuits to push agendas that are limiting to free enterprise in general. They are demonstrably limiting to manufactured housing in particular.
It ought to be self-evident that if Buffett and the industry’s “big boys” wanted to grow the industry, they could do so with ease. They have the political, media, and financial connections needed to move the needle successfully to achieve hundreds of thousands of more manufactured home sales per year – if that was their goal.
The fact that the industry isn’t growing will lead clear thinkers to come to a simple, and vexing, evidence based conclusion. The powers that be in the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis and their allies do not want to see the industry to grow robustly at this time. The evidence is in the statistics since Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate bought Clayton Homes, associated lending and other pieces of the manufactured housing industry, including suppliers and community brokerage.
But that stunning level of stunted performance would only be possible if there wasn’t already “deep state” personalities embedded in key roles in the federal government. Once the Duty to Serve (DTS) was mandated by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008, MHI should have robustly pushed for full implementation on all manufactured homes.
Instead, MHI and their “big boy” axis and allied members have manipulated DTS to support the clearly failing “CrossModTM homes” plan, that Tom Hardiman at the Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA) has publicly and repeatedly ripped.
While MHI pretends nothing is wrong with the failed “CrossModTM homes” scheme, Hardiman is reportedly working the halls of Congress, HUD and with state officials too in opposition to MHI’s efforts. But it must be kept in mind that MHI’s effort exists because Clayton Homes (part of BRK), Skyline-Champion (SKY) and Cavco Industries (CVCO) are promoting those efforts.
MHProNews early on said that the “new class of homes” – now a.k.a. “CrossModTM homes” – was a “Trojan Horse.” MHI member company managers expressed their outrage privately to this publication that the MHI promoted plan was flawed, as MHProNews alone reported their respective exclusive comments.
Meanwhile MHI keeps pushing a clearly failed effort, why? For that matter, why has MHProNews said that their effort is a proven failure? That’s also simple to document. Because as the FHFA listening session in St Louis reported last November 2019, it was publicly revealed that only 10 CrossMod type “new class of manufactured home” loans had been closed by both GSEs in roughly 2 years.
10 loans, or ten “CrossModTM homes.” Indeed, MHI member lenders have said that the financing of those loans has not been easy. All of that reflects an abysmal failure. That record of failure belies MHI’s researcher claims that consumers will beat the doors down to buy a “CrossModTM homes.” If so, where are the tens or hundreds of thousands of sales that ought to be taking place?
Instead, even MHI had to admit in the close of 2019 that shipments were down. That’s an embarrassment given they claimed in 2018 to have “momentum.”
Who besides MHProNews and our MHLivingNews sister site fought this scheme from the outset? MHARR.
The Fighters for Consumers and Growth in Manufactured Housing
The producers in manufactured housing clearly have a “fighter” association in MHARR. They have said that they need a post-production partner.
MHI by contrast is arguably documented to be mix of conflicting interests, liars, and manipulative consolidators. The wide gulf between MHI’s claims of being able to reach 500,000 new HUD Code home shipments and still sub-100,000 shipments speaks volumes.
It is the words of MHI members and sources, on- and off-the-record to MHProNews, that has as revealed them to be “damn liars.” The pull quotes below tells the tale.
At almost every turn, MHI “big boy” members are feasting at Buffett’s Buffet.
These insider companies are steadily building their “moats,” and some are openly bragging about it. One would think that a company like Legacy Housing would be opposed to Clayton’s maneuverings. If so, they’ve shown it in odd ways, as recent whistleblower comments and their own statements have reflected.
What Legacy Housing (LEGH) and others in MHI clearly don’t tell their shareholders is that by failing to enforce existing federal laws – by supporting MHI vs MHARR – they are undermining the independents of this industry. Further, and in some ways more important to investors and consumers, they are self-limiting their own potential.
Put differently, there is an argument to be made that several publicly traded firms in manufactured housing are shortchanging investors as well as consumers who seek affordable housing options that include homeownership.
Put differently, that troubling pattern of oligopoly-building is arguably in turn harming consumers. That harms taxpayers, as public programs have to step in with rental subsidies that in millions of cases won’t result in home ownership. Who does that hurt? Disproportionately minorities. Perhaps that sheds more light on the kind of concerns that a former Clayton/lending team member said to local media in the whistleblower interview below.
Happy consumers are the lifeblood of the industry, just as good financing is the lifeblood of big ticket sales, including housing. But despite MHI’s posturing about their so-called code of ethical conduct, notorious examples of mainstream media reported problems have reportedly had no consequences. The videos below are just a sampling of those about mainstream media reports on MHI member firms Havenpark Capital and “Frank and Dave” led Impact Communities, previously known as RV Horizons.
Millions viewed the NCIS 2019 episode “Going Mobile” that is arguably based on Frank and Dave. How many millions have to see a video like these before MHI enforces their so-called code of ethical conduct.
In manufactured housing, MHI plays “go along to get along” with “coalitions” that often have no deeply rooted interest in promoting manufactured housing.
Indeed, some in those coalitions are competitors to manufactured homes. While there are arguably some clear examples of lazy and/or incompetent MHI behavior, such as was illustrated in our report linked below, the case can be made that MHI are the Benedict Arnold of trade groups.
The tipster that shared emails between Gooch, and Sheila Dey reflects the apparently increasing trend of whistleblowing and insider comments sharing being made by current and past MHI member companies and organizations.
Communities, Assoc Exposé – Whistleblower “Leaks” – Lesli Gooch Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) CEO and Sheila S. Dey, Executive Director Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association (WMA)
The fact that MHI board members have tolerated the pattern of purported misbehavior of Lesli Gooch and her documented conflicting interests with conventional housing organizations speaks volumes about those so-called MHI “elected” leaders. If they sincerely wanted to see manufactured housing grow, they would be pushing Gooch and Bowersox out, replacing them with fighters like MHARR has, and then taking the steps to enforce the good laws that would fuel the industry’s sustained growth.
But in fairness to Gooch and Bowersox, they are behaving in much the same fashion as their predecessor, Dick Jennison. The statement below is yet another historic example of MHI’s openly stated intent to slow grow. That has in fact been the pattern. Is that coincident or evidence?
MHVille Lessons Learned?
Those independent producers who want to see the industry grow who are either not in MHARR already need to reflect on the obvious value of giving MHARR more support. Organizations like Judicial Watch and MHARR need funding to do their work. The more funding, the more that such organizations can do on behalf of their supporters.
Last year at about this time, MHARR reached out to state associations to see who would team up with them to sue for action over the zoning and placement issues. Per MHARR, they had no takers. What?
The lack of logic – the clear disconnects – between the implication of what Gaiski and Bliss, among others, have said and what then they don’t step up to the plate and work with MHARR?
No takers to fight for a full implementation of existing federal law if properly enforced could robustly grow the industry? These examples should be eye opening for any who are still in denial about how duplicitous numerous associations and leaders in the industry have become.
State associations have purportedly been largely neutered just as MHI has been by “big boy members.” In fairness, there are some state association staffers who are frustrated and will periodically provide tips and insights to MHProNews. That can be useful.
But until there is an increased revolt against the Omaha-Knoxville-Arlington axis and their allies on various level, there will be no meaningful progress save toward more consolidation. That is why even leaks like the one published on 4.15.2020 are useful.
That moat-building, consolidation-focused use of “umbrella” associations as feeding grounds for consolidating – i.e. Buffett’s Buffett – is the potentially dark future ahead.
Or – like Judicial Watch and MHARR – given the examples of those willing to fight for the full and proper implementation of existing laws that would end zoning discrimination and would level the playing field on financing, there is the potential for a brighter future.
The effects of what the Masthead called “GatesGate” are underway. More will be known in the days ahead. But the evidence of the wisdom of those concerns is a warning to the firms that are not in the big boys club. To clarify, how many saw COVID19 coming in December, 2019? But it is very possible that Gates, Buffett and a few others did know. A previously unknown virus has become a weapon of weapon of mass distraction as well as a weapon of mass destruction.
There evidence reflects this. There is arguably no safety alone. There is no safety in MHI or their affiliates. That’s what years of data and quotes from inside and outside of our industry purportedly reveals.
For every positive video MHI produces to “promote” the industry, there are negative videos by news teams, mainstream media or others that make the industry look like it is only shilionares that are selling homes.
In the video above, every one of those firms spotlighted by John Oliver’s satirical attack is an MHI member firm. It has had over 7.8 million views, plus those who watched it live on cable. By contrast, the pro-MHI video below has barely broken three figures.
The first video, for those who don’t yet know, was founded in good measure by MHAction research. MHAction, and several other nonprofits that periodically attack manufactured housing, are funded by one of Buffett’s foundations.
That first video posted above has had millions of views. The second, as nice as it seems to be, has only had a few thousand views. Which one has had the most impact on manufactured housing? Isn’t it obvious, based upon the industry’s low levels of sales, production and new home shipments?
The future could be brighter for those who see the wisdom of creating a post-production trade group and for those producers who support MHARR. The alternative is slow economic death.
The bottom line is that there has been years of scandalous behavior in manufactured housing, as well as on the larger national level in America. Organizations like JW nationally, or MHARR inside our industry, offer useful lessons on what is necessary to do in order to make America and manufactured housing great again.
Stay tuned for more from your #1 source for the most-read manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © (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.)
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.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.
Communities, Assoc Exposé – Whistleblower “Leaks” – Lesli Gooch Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) CEO and Sheila S. Dey, Executive Director Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association (WMA)