Tim Williams, President and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) owned 21st Mortgage Corporation was the former chairman of the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI). That Williams still sits on an MHI board. His firm is reportedly the largest lender in manufactured housing for independent retailers, communities, and others who are not corporately owned. Another Tim Williams in manufactured housing is the Executive Director of the Ohio Manufactured Home Association (OMHA). Each is credibly accused of having conflicting interests. But it OMHA’s Tim Williams who is specifically accused of betraying the interests of voters and supporters of President Donald J. Trump. Those charges and the impact on manufactured housing during a growing affordable housing crisis will be documented and explored in this news analysis.
An informed source told MHProNews that OMHA’s Williams performed paid pre-election 2020 “ghostwriting” in support of pro-Trump efforts while working for the OMHA. If that was sanctioned by his board and known by his members in advance are in part internal matters. That evidence-based claim about OMHA’s Williams was provided to MHProNews. As of 10 AM ET on 4.12.2021, he is not yet known to have denied the allegation.
- To be clear, a non-denial is not the same as an admission.
- However, a non-denial leaves the door open to that the allegation is true.
- If these violate organizational or other agreements are matters meriting an authentic investigation and public disclosure of all of the findings.
Given the nature of the claims, Williams’ silence could therefore be problematic for him and for numbers of members of the OMHA trade association that he has been the staff leader of for some years.
Such an investigation should be conducted in the light of specific on the record statements made by Williams directly to MHProNews which illustrates the nature of yet another and arguably interrelated apparent conflict of interest.
As has been previously reported by MHProNews, OMHA’s Williams made repeated public statements in support of MHI’s controversy-laden CEO Lesli Gooch, Ph.D. Gooch, as longer term industry professional readers here know, has had her own documented conflicts of interest charges. In one of those statements, he also specifically praised “MHI 2.0” President Mark Bowersox. In that same statement, OMHA’s Williams praised Berkshire Hathaway. The specific quote in question is shown below.
On the surface, that may not seem odd to an outsider taking a casual peek into manufactured housing. After all, Clayton Homes and 21st Mortgage are among the Berkshire-owned brands that are members of both MHI and the OMHA. But to attentive industry insiders or researchers seeking reality, this is a case of MHI CEO Gooch, who has her evidence-based history of conflicts of interest getting ‘cover’ from OMHA’s Williams, who likewise has conflicts of interested alleged.
It can begin to look sordid quickly.
That noted, OMHA’s Williams is reportedly aware of numerous credible claims that include evidence that Berkshire brands – and Tim Williams at 21st Mortgage specifically – that has harmed the interests of a range of manufactured housing independents. Several of those independents would have been OMHA members, but the documented claim’s impact spans dozens of other states too.
- 21st’s Tim Williams,
- inside counsel for 21st,
- Tom Hodge, general counsel for Clayton Homes, and MHI’s current chair,
- John Greiner at Graydon Law, one of MHI’s outside counsel’s,
- Ronald L. “Ron” Olson, attorney and Berkshire Hathaway board member,
- Kevin Clayton CEO at Berkshire owned Clayton Homes,
- Eric Hamilton, CEO at Berkshire owned Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF).
- MHI CEO Lesli Gooch.
None of the above – nor others contacted by MHProNews and our MHLivingNews sister site – have publicly responded to or denied the following.
- First, the authenticity of a specific document that was promulgated on 21st letterhead with their president and CEO Williams’ digital signature’ on the document. A copy of that 21st document – with explanations of the import – is linked here. It has been called a prima facie case for a “felony” antitrust violation. More on that and other MHI related documents are linked here.
- Second. That bullet-list of industry professionals have not responded to well documented, and per other attorneys asked, credible allegations of about the third-party research that Samuel “Sam” Strommen from Knudson Law. That research accuses several Berkshire owned brands, along with other MHI members and MHI itself, of being part of a purported case of “felony” antitrust violations that raised concerns about RICO or other violations. RICO is short for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations.
Given that criminal felony as well as civil issues arise from the above, they are serious charges indeed.
But with respect to OMHA’s Williams, it also arguably points to how that quoted statement by him shown above is openly betraying the interests of independents. It further purportedly reflects a betrayal of pro-Trump efforts that he supposedly accepted payments from. How so?
Williams at 21st claimed conflicts-of-interest and related legal issues are dealt with further below. This may bubble in various state or even federal inquiries. One possible example is the Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison connected report linked here.
Meaning, depending on the nuances and granular details, the charges against OMHA’s Williams may go beyond a purported betrayal of Trump, whoever supposedly was paying him for ghostwriting services, and his MAGA supporters. Untold numbers of manufactured home retailing and producing independents, several of whom would have been dues-paying members of the OMHA, would have logically been paying for representation services that were not being authentically delivered.
Once the industry’s dynamics since the dawn of the Berkshire era are understood – for example, how limited lending has forced numerous firms to turn largely to 21st for financing – only to then have that firm purportedly betray and put literally thousands of independents out of business – it is difficult to make the case how OMHA’s Williams could seriously claim to be working for his state’s independents and/or working for MHARR members.
After all, MHI and MHARR are routinely on different sides of several key issues. Those differences often align with MHARR’s allegations that MHI is giving cover and advancing the interests of MHI dominating Berkshire Hathaway owned members. A recent example of how MHI and MHARR’s views differ is shown in the report below.
Nor is MHARR alone in manufactured housing making such charges. Prosperity Now’s (previously called CFED) director of affordable housing, Doug Ryan has made similar charges.
While, MHI’s credibility-questioned CEO Gooch has defended and denied that MHI is working on behalf of Berkshire, Clayton, 21st et al, credible voices say otherwise. Indeed, an MHI award winner – Marty Lavin, J.D. – who is specifically known for his financing expertise – has also charged MHI publicly with working for the interests of their ‘big boy’ members.
Thus, manufactured housing voices inside the MHI sphere and those outside who are motivated to see manufactured housing grow are casting doubt about what OMHA’s Williams and Gooch say – despite the mounting credible evidence against their claims – ‘just isn’t so.’ Which competing claim is easier to believe?
Thus, OMHA’s Williams either appears to be blind to this array of allegations against MHI’s and Berkshire’s leadership – which he boldly said he is “100%” supportive of, or perhaps he is merely hoping that his independent members, past and present, will not realize that the affable Williams may have sold their interests out, or looked the other way while it was taking place.
Such a claimed sellout, or blind eye betrayal, logically also goes on to various types of consumer and taxpayer harms, plus possible several possible violations of the law as well. RICO, it will be recalled, can include a misuse of the U.S. Mail as well as a deceptive or fraudulent use of “the wires.” “The wires” in RICO terms can include internet, phone, and fax. Thus, as of the time shown above, the as yet uncontested and prima facie case linked here may well have an ancillary application that could also apply in the case of Williams and the OMHA.
It is useful to note that the Capital Research Center (CRC) has for some time made in depth, well documented research reports into how “dark money” from billionaires – sometimes specifically naming Warren Buffett, along with others – have flowed into various groups that in turn influence politics and elections. A phrase used by CRC at times is “deception and misdirection.” Meaning, one thing may be indicated, but another meaning or intent exists.
Indeed, others have in mainstream media and in our profession alike have accused Buffett of a type of folksy paltering. Paltering is be a mix of truth, half-truth, spin, or outright deceptive behavior. What makes paltering useful for deceptive individuals is precisely when known truths are the lead, and then a more subtle deceptive statement follows. When delivered with a smile or verve, it can sadly be powerful, as numbers of politicians know.
While it is uncomfortable for pro-Berkshire sycophants to read, the numbers of Buffett, Clayton Homes, 21st Mortgage Corp, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance (VMF) ripping mainstream media reports are extensive. Here below is a partial list.
Kori Hale from CultureBanx writing in Forbes called out Buffett, Clayton Homes, and their lenders in April 2019 for racial bias and other problematic business practices.
The Atlantic, without specifying how the monopolization was being accomplished, noted that the independent retailers in manufactured housing were being rapidly eliminated/consolidated, that report is linked here.
The Nation called it “The Dirty Secret Behind Warren Buffett’s Billions…” and specifies Clayton Homes among those using the strategic moat in ‘dirty’ ways.
The Jacksonville Florida Times Union summarized the connection between the John Oliver viral hit video dubbed “Mobile Homes,” MHI, Clayton Homes, and their related lenders. That op-ed was first fact-checked by an editor, before it was published not only in the one newspaper it was submitted, but at least in 5 Florida newspapers.
Seattle Times | The Mobile Home Trap – This includes items referenced by Ellison, Feir, and others.
Robin Harding, “How Warren Buffett Broke American Capitalism.” Financial Times
To the claim of OMHA’s Williams betraying Trump interest that he allegedly took payments from, even a brief series of bullets reflects how that is true. This same list also reveals how this impacts manufactured housing, as will be shown hereafter.
- It is not a secret that Warren Buffett was a Barack Obama-Joe Biden supporter in the 2008 and 2012 election cycles.
- In 2016, Buffett also openly campaigned for former Obama-era Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
- Buffett’s grandson served in the Obama White House.
- Buffett has long had a dim view of Donald Trump, perhaps due to the 45th President’s America First policies that he espoused long before running for office. The Trump-MAGA thinking opposed selling out American workers due to “terrible” trade deals that benefited multinationals while harming Americans.
- Among the nation’s multinational corporations is Buffett-led Berkshire, plus several of the firms that Berkshire has investments in.
Additionally, while OMHA’s Williams openly praised MHI CEO Gooch, he did so apparently knowing of the documented conflicts of interest lodged against her. Once more, no denials by Gooch, inside or outside counsel occurred in the face of document-based conflict of it claims against Gooch.
A similar pattern, with certain distinctions, is occurring in the community’s sector of the manufactured home industry. Strommen pointed to problems in the community sector, as has the Private Equity Stakeholder Project and others.
View of Manufactured Housing Underperformance and Judas-like Betrayals from Within
In perhaps 1800 words above, a large part of the 35,000 foot view of the steady deterioration of manufactured housing independents during an affordable housing crisis is accomplished.
OMHA’s Williams touted the ‘recovery’ of manufactured housing from the lows hit after the 2009-2010 impact of that 21st letter that cut off lending to thousands of independents. That 21st letter in turn had an upstream impact on producers – some of whom were MHARR members, but others who were in MHI – whom those independent producers sold homes to independently owned retailers.
Manufactured housing has been apparently subverted by forces include several Judas-like betrayals with a kiss from within and without. Are the two Williams’ men named herein also in that smiling betrayal category?
While conventional real estate sales and far more costly conventional single family construction are roaring to fresh highs.
- That overview is buttressed by longer and more in depth reports that are linked herein or below.
- It is also supported by the documents like the 21st letter that OMHA’s Williams surely knows about.
OMHA’s Williams is, per reliable sources, still a regular reader of MHProNews. How could he possibly claim not to know about such concerns? How can he then boldly claim to be both for Berkshire and MHI and for MHARR and independents? His statement quoted above is a logically self-contradictory proposition.
How could OMHA’s Williams look those members in the eye, smile, and claim to care about their interests? The more recent quote below sheds further light on the above. If 21st/Williams was “happy” that the GSEs project “failed,” how could he have been serious or sincere in encouraging 21st retailers to get Congress and others to the GSEs to act upon the DTS mandate?
Indeed, as a planned report focused on the history of 21st/Williams comments on DTS will reveal, he has made several self-contradictory statements and taken steps that arguably undermined his claim in 2009 to be sorry about what he was supposedly being forced to do by market conditions. But even before then, Kevin Clayton himself said on camera that he and Berkshire were planning to make it “difficult” on independents. Clayton himself said that they had plenty of money. Much of the evidence needed to make the case against Berkshire brands has already been published here and on our sister site. Ironically, it routinely uses statements made by Berkshire leaders and their own documents.
This does not require reading between the lines. It is so bold as to be ‘in your face’ for those who have the courage to look at the evidence objectively.
Once more, while a non-denial is not an admission of guilt, the fact that not even Berkshire’s Ron Olson, who is reputed to be a antitrust savvy attorney, has tried to respond leaves the door open to the point that those so accused have at this point no credible defense against the evidence-based allegations.
The pattern of apparent insanity of surging site built sales while manufactured housing continues to slide has been tolerated for too long.
Federal Reserve Researchers
Indeed, even this brief outline sheds light on what James A Schmitz Jr., a Minneapolis Federal Reserve researcher and his colleagues, have called “sabotaging monopolies.” Schmitz and his associates have specifically made several reports that use manufactured housing as an example of claimed collusion between federal government and private interests that harms millions of those seeking affordable housing. While Schmitz et al admit that their work is in process, hence incomplete, it seemingly supports the charges leveled by Strommen, MHARR, Ryan, and others inside and outside of manufactured housing. What might have once been considered fringe or conspiratorial thinking is becoming mainstream among serious researchers, and thoughtful personalities on both sides of the left-right divide.
With all that in mind, how could OMHA’s Williams have the audacity to claim to be supportive of MHARR members and independents, when numbers of independents has steadily withered due to the deployment of moat building methods? How could he betray those who paid him to ghostwrite for the Trump re-election?
When an MHI “coalition” member, the National Housing Conference (NHC), has dropped a graphical document that reveals at-a-glance just how poorly MHI has done on advocacy, how can OMHA’s Williams claim that Gooch is the best he has ever seen at MHI?
Such statements by OMHA’s Williams praising the very people who apparently have their own conflicts of interest and legal issues arguably reveals either bad judgment on his part or worse. Duplicitous statements, desperation, or some other combination of emotional thinking and behaviors are an ill reflection on his role in serving the remaining independents in the manufactured housing industry.
All of this impacts consumers, taxpayers, and all of those who hope to pursue the American Dream.
A dark, and undesired-by-those-accused, “lagniappe” in this sordid matter is this. While MHARR has been battling not only regulators to get them to do their job and enforce existing laws, they have also de facto been battling the duplicitous “deception and misdirection” nature of MHI, and the smiling faces of the Berkshire brands.
When Berkshire employees at Clayton Homes are among those who have blown the whistle, why would OMHA’s Williams – or any other objective thinkers trusting anything that MHI or Berkshire says or does?
A careful reading of some of those statements made by Clayton team members often lend support to the concerns raised by this report and those linked from it.
If the Berkshire brands and MHI ‘big boy’ members, in collusion with certain federal officials, have back-stabbed literally thousands of independent retailers and effectively put dozens of producers out of business with their moat method, isn’t it obvious that it is just a question of time as to who is the next victim?
MAGA believers and other people of good will that support the American Dream may find this as President Trump might call it “disgraceful.”
Plus, while we have received useful tips from some state execs, why haven’t more MHEC members stepped up to the plate?
And as Strommen and others have alleged, it is likely illegal in several ways. To the extent that some know and are silent, the may raise the question: are they accomplices after the fact?
To learn more, see the related reports above and below. If either Tim Williams opts to respond to these facts and allegations, MHProNews is prepared to do a follow up report.
The tragic irony of much of this is that the laws needed to correct these conditions already exist. They simply must be enforced. For those details, see the report linked below the Kovach quote that follows. For those who have apparently been deceptively betrayed others, for whatever motives, they should be formally be investigated and held responsible for whatever the evidence uncovers.
2:00 PM Update on 4.12.2021: Tim Williams at OMHA sent an email to MHProNews shortly after this report was published. In that, he denies he was paid to write articles for a pro-Trump group. It says in part “…several years ago I was asked to write an UNPAID article for a Trump leaning organization which involved Ohio politics but was never published. I was asked as a volunteer to write more articles but declined.” That partially confirms directly from Williams one of several of the allegations made above. Namely, that he did ghostwriting for an outside group.
Note that this article and analysis above is less about the Trump/MAGA angle than it is around the industry related aspects.
A post-publication email from OMHA’s Williams to MHProNews email acknowledged that he was asked this morning at 7:09 a.m. to address the evidence-based allegation about ghostwriting. That was about 5 hours before this article was published. Additionally, as MHProNews’ reminded Williams, these issues have arguably been addressed to him previously some time ago, without a direct reply. So, it was not only this morning, but well in advance of this article that he was given an opportunity to address the concerns raised.
However, in neither of the two emails from OMHA’s Williams, he declined to address other issues raised in the report above. The other issues are as or more important than the ghostwriting. Why did he stay silent about the evidence based allegations regarding Berkshire Hathaway, MHI, etc.?
Further, in those two different emails, sent following our article today, there were arguably misleading if not false statements sent by email that included others. MHProNews has asked OMHA’s Williams and their attorney, Elizabeth Birch, for a prompt public apology for those statements he made.
Bottom line at this point? Williams now denies the payment part of the report, but has not addressed several other substantive issues raised. Stay tuned for a possible follow up report as this develops.
Stay tuned for more of what is ‘behind the curtains’ as well as what is obvious and in-your-face reports. It is all here, at the runaway largest and most-read source for authentic manufactured home “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © 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 MHProNews.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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