“Having Knowledge is Gangster.”
– Ron Finley
“The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a
friend and an ally, not a 20 percent traitor.”
– The late President Ronald Reagan
(former Democrat turned Republican).
The office of then-Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-D) contacted the Arlington, VA based Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), according to a long-time association insider to MHProNews. Then Representative Ellis, who is now the Attorney General for Minnesota, wanted information from MHI for use with a manufactured home focused bill his team was in the process of crafting.
MHI declined giving the Ellison team the requested information, per that informed source.
Richard “Dick” “Jennison could be thoughtful at times” said the source, immediately adding the caveat “but [he] was often vindictive.” Some of the choices made by MHI’s previous president and CEO Jennison, such as the Ellison decision, were contrary to common trade association practices.
The comments and insights from that insider source occured as a result of other behind the scenes reports about MHI and their more powerful corporate interests, which can be found below the bylines and notices.
Per that informed source, it is worth stressing that MHProNews was told that it is a common practice for a trade association to work with members of Congress from both major parties. Thus, the decision not to give then Rep. Ellison’s office the information about manufactured housing that MHI possessed made no apparent sense. After all, engagement with Ellison on the front end could have meant an ability to help frame the legislation.
The issue in question was part of bill eventually proposed by Ellison, which was reported at the time by MHProNews at the linked reports below.
Ellison, it should be recalled, was one of a group of Democratic legislators who signed onto a letter regarding the problematic practices of Clayton Homes and their purportedly racial bias and predatory lending. That letter is linked here, and included the notion that Clayton Homes was a ‘near monopoly.’
The specific quote from the linked letter is “As the [Seattle Times] investigation makes clear, Clayton is the nation’s largest manufactured housing company and has a “near monopolistic” grip on lending to minority borrowers seeking financing for manufactured housing reaching nearly 72% of African-American borrowers, 56% of Latino borrowers, and 53% of Native American borrowers.”
Much has been uncovered since then which makes that allegation by Ellison, Representatives Maxine Waters (CA-D) and others – as serious as it was and is – now seem tame. That noted, those Democratic lawmakers’ letter to then CFPB Director Richard Cordray and then Attorney General Loretta Lynch is linked here.
More from MHI Insider About Jennison and Rick Robinson
Then MHI President Jennison and then-General Counsel Rick Robinson met with Ishbel Dickens, J.D., stated the same source. Dickens was at the time the executive director of the National Manufactured Home Owners Association (NMHOA).
The MHI-insider source stated the industry could have had a deal with Dickens and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on the so-called MLO rule years earlier, with millions in lower cost and less public blowback than was caused by pressing for the Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act.
Preserving Access never passed, despite millions spent, years of effort and Jennison’s public pledge at Louisville to get it done. It wasn’t until the Trump Administration took office and S.2155 was enacted that the MLO leg of Preserving Access was passed into law. The insider’s tip largely matches up with what Ishbel Dickens told MHProNews after that meeting with an MHI board member and Robinson.
Other insider insights were also shared, which tend to confirm prior reports by MHProNews. For example, that insider stated that from that person’s perspective, MHI was “anti-consumer.”
That alleged “anti-consumer” attitude was raised by a Democratic lawmaker’s team to MHProNews. It may help explain why former MHI President Chris Stinebert crafted his farewell message as he did.
Not unrelated, what several consumer groups have called the “predatory” behavior of certain MHI members could well be tied to that notion. It may shed light on why MHI has a Code of Ethical Conduct that an MHI board member has told MHProNews has to their knowledge not been invoked, despite several problematic and quite public examples of violations.
MHProNews Analysis and Commentary
First, let’s stress that such insider insights from those connected with MHI or others with industry insights are welcomed and encouraged. They add valuable information for a range of professionals, which makes the point that “Having Knowledge is Gangster.”
Second, it obliquely illuminates the oddity of Prosperity Now, previously known as CFED, accepting Clayton Homes financial support while CFED helped support NMHOA. Those facts begs the question, was there a charade on both sides? Has there been a kind of choreographed dance with MHI on one side, and NMHOA or later MHAction on the other ‘attacking’ each other for effect?
While the answer isn’t self evident, there are reasons to think it possible. That clue was provided by the late Democratic Senator William Proximire who said the following.
It all begs for congressional and state level investigations, because if ‘opposing’ trade groups are at some level working in collusion with each other, several possible legal violations could be involved.
MHProNews continues to make the public call for state and federal level investigations of MHI, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corporation, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, NoVo Foundation, NMHOA, and MHAction, among others, for possible deceptive trade practices and other activities that have undermined manufactured homeowners’ housing value. The same groups, and possibly others, should be investigated for possible antitrust and market manipulation that had hurt investors, affordable housing seekers, and independent operators.
That’s a wrap on this installment of 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
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