“You know, for people like us [i.e. big mainstream media journalists],
we do the job based on who’s in power.”
– Chris Cuomo,
CNN Anchor speaking to Anderson Cooper of CNN, during show handoff on 11.16.2020.
“Az aki ezt mondta, az modtad, te vagy.”
– Magyar Maxim
(translation further below.)
Emotion, facts, and the implication of the various actions described herein should all be considered separately. It is easy to understand why residents of “Ed Pagel’s Trailer Park” became upset. Let’s briefly note that “Ed Pagel’s Trailer Park” is an example of improper terminology, but nevertheless that is still the formal name of Edward Bernard (“Bernie”) Pagel so-called “mobile home park” i.e. manufactured home community – business. That noted, Pagel gave a controversial pre-election memo to his residents. Pagel’s memo resulted in several complaints and a media uproar ensued. The State of Colorado Department of Law (DOL – state attorney general’s office) issued a cease and desist notice to Edward Bernard (“Bernie”) Pagel that was emailed and reportedly hand-delivered to Pagel on October 23, 2020. That cease and desist order was issued by attorney Robert S. Shapiro, First Assistant Attorney General for the State of Colorado Department of Law. Shapiro reports to the State of Colorado’s Attorney General Philip J. Weiser (D).
MHLivingNews notes as matters of fact and issues involved in this controversy the following.
- The message “Bernie Pagel” gave residents of Ed Pagel’s Trailer Park shared Pagel’s views on the election and how that might impact his business and ultimately the residents of that community. That memo, which the subsequent Shapiro’s cease and desist order called the “Pagel Notice,” certainly drew a negative reaction from several residents. That memo is shown further below.
- Shapiro’s cease and desist order is attached and is also referenced further below.
- Among other points, that order to Pagel from Shapiro on behalf of the Colorado Department of Law makes the argument that the Pagel Notice purportedly violated Colorado’s voter intimidation law.
- The attorney general for the State of Colorado is Philip J. Weiser. Wikipedia says Weiser is a member of the Democratic Party.
- Edward Bernard (“Bernie”) Pagel’s “Pagel Notice” makes it clear that he is a supporter of President Donald J. Trump. Rephrased, there is an apparent divergence of political views involved. That begs the question, how did that factor into Shapiro’s order to Pagel?
- However controversial or unpleasant the phrasing of Pagel’s memo to residents at Ed Pagel’s Trailer Park may be, there is more than one legal question involved. Shapiro was working on behalf of the CO DOL. He asserted that a voter intimidation law was violated by Pagel’s Notice. But another legal question is, does a business owner have a right to free speech when it comes to communication with customers or employees?
- Does the Shapiro ‘cease and desist’ order violate Pagel’s free speech rights? If so, does that mean that the Shapiro’s order to Pagel violated the law?
In a divided nation, it may be difficult for some to separate these various interrelated issues. Some will see Pagel’s notice, have an emotional reaction to it and if the reader may be a pro-Biden or pro-Democratic supporter, may automatically view Pagel as wrong and the state of Colorado’s action as righteous. By contrast, some may be pro-Trump or pro-Republican, and will automatically gloss over all other details and will see the cease and desist order as a gross overstep.
This report will probe the various legal issues raised, setting aside the emotions involved. MHLivingNews sought and obtained legal views from attorneys that are referenced further below.
As important, our sister site, MHProNews, directly engaged Pagel, which to our recollection we have no personal or any direct involvement with beyond reporting. Pagel was asked to comment. He declined doing so, perhaps due in part to the cease and desist order from the CO DOL shown below.
Additionally, MHProNews contacted the attorneys involved in the CO DOL cease and desist order. A response from State of Colorado Department of Law public relations person is shown below, as are the messages that led to that reply and the follow up to the CO DOL.
What follows are the following numbered topics will be followed by a brief MHLivingNews commentary and analysis.
- The text of the memo that Bernie Pagel gave his residents, which the state of Colorado called the “Pagel Notice.”
- Some pull quotes and local news videos on the topic of the Pagel Notice.
- Pagel Trailer Park – remember, that’s improper terminology, but nevertheless the name Pagel uses for his business – Google rating.
- The entire CO DOL cease and desist order as a download, including some pull quotes used below.
- Messages from MHProNews to the attorneys and communications people involved in the Pagel Notice and their reply to date. Note that one of those messages includes quotes and statements from other attorneys who provided MHLivingNews/MHProNews their quick take on the legal controversies involved.
- A brief MHLivingNews analysis and commentary.
With that numbered outline and backdrop for this report, let’s dive in.
- The text of the memo that Bernie Pagel gave his residents, which the state of Colorado called the “Pagel Notice.”
Please understand IF Joe Biden is elected as our next President, everything you do and have to pay for will change completely.
Everything will be increased. Like paying ALOT more in taxes, utilities, gasoline, new permits, fees and regulations…everything!
This also means YOUR RENT will be increased to cover these expenses. Most likely, rent would DOUBLE in price!
IF the current President is re-elected, WE WILL NOT RAISE THE RENT FOR AT LEAST 2 YEARS!
Voting is your choice and we are not telling you how to vote. WE are just informing our tenants what WE will do according to the election results.
If Trump wins, we all win. If Biden wins, we all lose.
VOTE on November 3, 2020.”
2. Some pull quotes from mainstream media and local news videos on the topic of the Pagel Notice.
That memo from Pagel drew a raft of mainstream media reports, as residents went to public officials and others upset about the arguments being made.
CBS4 Denver posted this 15 second video that said in part: “Colorado AG Says Landlord Engaged In Voter Intimidation.”
“Bernie Pagel is accused of distributing notices to tenants that rent would double if Joe Biden was elected president,” said CBS4 Denver’s YouTube page description.
A longer video news segment was produced by ABC affiliate Denver7 – The Denver Channel. Denver 7 said this “Tenants at Fort Morgan trailer park say landlord is telling them how to vote.”
“Tenants at a Fort Morgan trailer park say their landlord is telling them how to vote and threatening them with a rent hike if the election doesn’t go his way. Denver7 Investigator Jennifer Kovaleski has more,” read The Denver Channel’s YouTube page brief.
The New York Times 10.22.2020 report on this matter said in part, “Juana Hernandez, whose parents have lived for about 10 years at Pagel’s Trailer Park in Fort Morgan, 80 miles northeast of Denver, said in an interview on Thursday that the notice had been rolled up and stuck in the fence of their $280-a-month lot.
“It’s just really infuriating because most of the people who live in the trailer park are Hispanic,” said Ms. Hernandez, whose parents immigrated from Mexico. “A lot of them, they don’t even have the right to vote. I do think that it is intimidation.” She said her parents were already struggling financially because her father had to stop working at a nearby meat processing plant after getting the coronavirus.”
However authentic the emotion or the concerns involved in the New York Times report, Hernandez saying that “A lot of them [the residents] don’t even have the right to vote” – implying that they are not legally in the United States – logically belies the notion that this was “voter intimidation.”
3. Business Name and Improper Terminology and Pagel’s Business Rating
Note that the land-lease community is reportedly named “Ed Pagel’s Trailer Park.” It is arguably a misuse of terminology, but that is what Bernie Pagel apparently wants the name of the property to be. Ouch.
4. The entire CO DOL cease and desist order as a download, including some pull quotes shown below.
MHLivingNews obtained a copy of the Colorado Department of Law (DOL) Cease and Desist Notice hand-delivered and emailed to “Bernie Pagel.” That state issued document is linked here. It stated in part as follows.
This letter serves as NOTICE that the Colorado Department of Law
(“Department”) has cause to believe that Edward Bernard (“Bernie”) Pagel has
engaged in, or is currently engaging in, unlawful voter intimidation as defined in
the Colorado Uniform Election Code of 1992 (“Election Code”), Colo. Rev. Stat. § 1-
Specifically, § 1-13-713 prohibits voter intimidation as follows: It is unlawful for any person directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person in his behalf, to impede, prevent, or otherwise interfere with the free exercise of the elective franchise of any elector or to compel, induce, or prevail upon any elector either to give or refrain from giving his vote at any election provided by law or to give or refrain from giving his vote for any particular person or measure at any such election.”
Carefully note the phrasing, “to impede, prevent, or otherwise interfere with the free exercise of the elective franchise of any elector or to compel, induce, or prevail…”
How was Pagel’s Notice preventing or compelling a vote? However ham-handed or problematic the phrasing may be seen, Pagel specifically said in his memo to residents that “Voting is your choice and we are not telling you how to vote. WE are just informing our tenants what WE will do according to the election results.” Did Pagel lose his rights to free speech?
Note the following from the same DOL letter to Pagel.
“Colorado law authorizes the Attorney General to take legal action to enjoin violations of the Election Code and take other actions, potentially including criminal prosecution, to protect the integrity of elections and to prevent voter intimidation.”
5. Messages from MHProNews to the attorneys and communications people involved in the Pagel Notice and their reply to date. Note that one of those messages includes quotes and statements from other attorneys who provided MHLivingNews/MHProNews their quick take on the legal controversies involved.
RE: Pagel Notice, media request for timely response, please
As you know, publications and media ranging from the New York Times to Fox News has covered your cease and desist notice to Edward Bernard “Bernie” Pagel as a formal response by your office to his memo posted on residents’ doors and home sites at the land-lease community Pagel operates. That notice from your office is attached for our clarity in communications.
By way of introduction, MHProNews is the runaway largest and most read trade media serving the manufactured housing industry. Our readers include professionals, legal, public officials, advocates, media, and others.
That noted, this issue was brought to our attention pre-election. We thought it prudent to hold our report until now, and would value your emailed response to the following. Note that we have reached out this morning to Pagel for his comments too.
As non-attorneys, but having to deal with legal topics on a routine basis, this seems to be a question of free speech rights, not only a matter of purported “voter intimidation.”
Your cease and desist order cites these two cases.
- “Economic coercion can constitute voter intimidation that is not protected by the First Amendment. E.g., United States v. A.T. Beaty, 288 F.2d 653 (6th Cir. 1961) (landowners evicting and refusing to deal in good faith with tenant farmers for purpose of interfering with their voting rights is economic coercion that constitutes voter intimidation)…”
- United States v. Bruce, 353 F.2d 474 (5th Cir. 1965) (landowners ordering insurance collector active in encouraging voter registrations to stay off their property, preventing him from reaching business clients, constituted voter intimidation).
With all due respect to your important office, but how do either of those apply to Pagel and the circumstances in question?
A progressive publication, The Atlantic, did a report on what is arguably a parallel matter, the right of employers to communicate to their employees about election-related issues. Quoting:
“Basically, employers have freedom of speech. That means they can say what they want, including strongly suggesting that employees vote for candidates and sending sample ballots to them. Your boss can’t walk into the voting booth with you, and she can’t pay you to vote for a particular candidate, but often there’s little else he or she can’t do.”
In a more recent employment related matter, the more conservative Jobs Creators Network (JCN) issued a statement in defense of an employer that was likewise advising their workers on the possible post-election impacts of former Vice President Joe Biden being elected.
“Employers have the right to educate their employees about the negative impacts of policy and we believe they have an obligation to do so,” Elaine Parker with JCN stated, per WESH Orlando. Presumably Parker had legal advice on that point, as did the Atlantic author linked above.
With that backdrop, the following is what MHProNews would value your response to this morning.
- While an argument can be made that Pagel’s Notice could have been better phrased, does possible poor phrasing by Pagel negate his free speech rights?
- Is the State of Colorado attempting to criminalize election related free speech that threatened no violence?
Those questions from MHProNews to you are framed in a deliberately pointed fashion in order to frame the issue. The ACLU of old would have defended Pagel’s Notice, as a recent article by progressive Attorney and journalist Glenn Greenwald could reasonably be construed to apply to this matter.
Please email your reply to each of the above, you could type your response under each of those two numbered items for our mutual clarity and accuracy in handling.
We’d value your prompt response to those questions.
Before closing, let me note for our mutual clarity that we as trade media have often taken to task truly predatory behavior by several professionals in our industry over the years. I share that to say that we do not blindly defend a manufactured housing industry professional. Right is right and wrong is wrong regardless of who does either.
I’m blind copying an attorney and colleague to document this inquiry. We will report regardless of your reply. I sincerely hope and encourage you to email a prompt reply. Thank you.
L. A. “Tony” Kovach
LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC”
On Nov 16, 2020, at 1:33 PM, Lawrence Pacheco wrote in reply to the email above the following.
Thanks for reaching out. The attorneys you reached out to in our office forwarded your email to me for a response.
The cease & desist letter speaks for itself. We have no further comment.
Director of Communications
Colorado Attorney General’s Office
(720) 508-6553 office
On Monday, Nov 16, 2020 at 5:04 PM, MHProNews sent the following message to Rob Shapiro, Emily Buckley, Lawrence Pacheco and Leeann Morrill, all with the State of Colorado’s Attorney General’s Office. Morrill was messaged minutes after the below was sent.
One more time, MHProNews is hereby requesting your reply, but this time adding some insights/feedback from some independent legal minds (i.e. attorneys we asked for comment).
- One compared your CO DOL office’s rationale in the Pagel Notice by saying it would make campaign ads, which promise benefits and/or threaten harm if this or that person wins/loses.
- Another said: “Laws like the one cited were adopted to prevent organized voter intimidation (like the Klan). The key language is “impede, prevent or interfere.” The object of this language, in turn, can be: (1) voting at all; or (2) voting for (or against) any particular person. Nothing that was done here has “impeded, prevented, or interfered” with anyone’s right to vote either generically or for (or against) any particular person. Note also, that the language does not include attemptingto “impede, prevent, or interfere.” Thus, absent evidence of actual voter suppression — i.e., “I did not vote” or “I did not vote for X” specifically because of what was said, there is no violation. And that should be the end of the story.”
- One agreed with our report’s raised concern that “threatening any kind of official action involving a criminal sanction is acting under color of law.”
- Last but not least, and similar to another briefer comment above is this: “they [CO DOL] could assert that the provision is disjunctive and that it is therefore unlawful, absent evidence of any actual on the ground interference affecting an individual’s vote, to “prevail” — in other words, attempt to convince someone — to vote for one candidate or against the other. That kind of broad interpretation, however, in my view, would clearly run afoul of the first amendment. Consider — every political advertisement ever run is for the purpose of “prevailing” upon electors to vote a certain way. So would they say that routine political advertisements, or speeches, or rallies, violate the law. Every one of those involves an attempt to “prevail” upon electors to vote a certain way. Now, its possible that a court out there has judicially construed this in such a way that the first amendment issue is sidestepped — I don’t know — but that would seem to be a stretch.”
See prior follow up in the thread below.
Once more, we would respectfully request a follow up from your office that specifies how the cited legal rulings would factually apply to the Pagel Notice. If you would like to modify, clarify, or withdraw the threat to Pagel, that too would be of interest. Please email that to me by replying to this message. Illustrations or other references are welcome. As before, I’m BCC’ing some attorneys we know in our industry, as well as some federal officials, for their feedback and to document the MHProNews request for your comments.
Let me note we in no way represent Pagel, and to my recollection, never heard of him before this issue. But this letter from your department to Pagel strikes MHProNews as arguably a serious threat to First Amendment rights.
Thank you. Respectfully,
6. Additional information, plus more MHLivingNews analysis and commentary
To oversimplify, during the Clinton and Obama Administrations, there is good evidence that “The rich got richer and the poor got poorer.” Meanwhile, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama became tens of millions of dollars wealthier after they left their respective terms in the White House. Which begs the question. How is it that the political party of ‘the little guy’ became the party of international corporate business interests and billionaires? How is it that after all of the promises by Democratic leaders to blacks, Hispanics, and other minority groups that the rich got richer under Democratic leadership?
That’s not to avoid mentioning that big media, across the left and right. routinely managed to get it wrong during the George W. Bush (43rd) Presidency (R) in the runup to the Middle Eastern wars that made the military industrial-spy complex industry stronger, also while many of “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” too.
When the people below all said at various times that “The system is rigged,” they were each arguably correct. However controversial his style, some 72 million plus Americans voted in 2020 for President Trump to ‘drain the swamp’ and upend a ‘rigged system.’
For more on the Bush hoodwinks, and other acts of major media hijinks and misses, see Shadows of Liberty, a documentary drama told mostly from the left-of-center vantage point.
The good news about “the news” media is that there are now numerous alternative media platforms, which includes specialized media such as MHLivingNews and MHProNews. No doubt, Big Media still dominates. But for those with intellectual curiosity who are seeking the truth of a specific subject, there are options that challenge what Chris Cuomo of CNN called “the narrative.”
The full context of the comment from Cuomo to Cooper, both of CNN, that was cited above is as follows. “State TV’s got some new competition, Anderson; it’s going to be very interesting to see how the narrative unfolds. For people like us, we do the job based on who’s in power. But this is going to be very interesting,” Cuomo said that to Anderson Cooper on 11.16.2020, referring to Fox News as “State TV.”
The phrase, “Az aki ezt mondta, at modtad, te vagy,” is a Magyar Maxim that can be loosely translated, “The person making the allegation is often the one guilty of the wrong that they are accusing someone else of doing.” Sometimes the person making an accusation is the one guilty of doing said wrongful deed.
The Colorado Attorney General’s Department of Law arguably put their thumb heavily onto the scales of free speech by applying a law in a manner that it was never meant to be used. Was Pagel just a handy target? Did uncritical media, national or local, brush past the first amendment concerns in a rush to support the CO ‘cease and desist’ order because it seemingly favored Biden over Trump, plus punished a Trump supporter publicly?
Over 150 mainstream media, entertainment and academic personalities – perhaps all of them at least publicly anti-Trump – signed onto a letter, or made their own statement, decrying media bias in journalism. That bias tends routinely to tilt toward an outlet’s favored candidate(s). Put differently, this Pagel controversy reveals not only legal issues, but media bias issues too.
There is no doubt that Bernie Pagel could have phrased that memo to his residence in a far better way. But Pagel, however ham-handed, did not do something that most candidate campaign ads don’t do. Candidate campaign ads routinely make promises of this or that benefit, while warning the viewer of the horrible things that will happen if the advertised candidate fails to win. Has the Colorado Department of Law threatened any candidate who ran such ads with voter intimidation or influence? Or is it only Pagel that got that sort of heavy-handed treatment?
It becomes up to voters to sift through a given claim and see if they are correct, exaggerated, or pure nonsense.
In the view of this writer, the far more dangerous matter in this sad incident was the cease and desist order by the Colorado Department of Law. Residents were free to toss that memo from Pagel into the trash. Pagel’s memo itself said that it was not telling them how to vote. Some at Ed Pagel’s Trailer Park, per the New York Times, were not even legal U.S. residents, so they could not legally vote anyway. The cease and desist order was like using a canon against a bothersome fly.
When the power of government is combined with political agendas to target citizens exercising their right of free speech – or any other God-given, Constitutionally protected right – it is arguably the public official that commits such a breach of public trust that violates his or her oath of office to uphold the Constitution that bears the closest scrutiny.
Our American Republic should get back to basics. That includes the simple yet profound notion of equal justice under law. Protecting the rights of our fellow citizens is a key part of that effort.
See the videos and related reports with interviews from experts and actual manufactured home owners, linked above and below to learn more. “We Provide, You Decide.” © (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, lifestyle news, 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.