Before launching into this news, analysis, and critique – in fairness to the Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) – they describe themselves like this. “The Manufactured Housing Institute is the only national trade organization representing all segments of the factory-built housing industry.” At times, MHI has also said that they represent “all segments of manufactured housing.”
They elaborate by saying that “MHI members include home builders, retailers, community operators, lenders, suppliers and affiliated state organizations.”
This writer made the argument several years ago that MHI should have a division that represents the interests of consumers. That is how you truly reflect “all segments” of the industry.
That occurred while I was an MHI member – a member who was elected by my peers to serve on one of their boards. I have freely admitted from time to time that a fair argument could be made that this writer was duped by aspects of MHI for a while. That is relevant. Because one could say that to a certain degree, this writer was on the edge of the insider’s club.
Indeed, we had a high level of access to people like former MHI chairman Tim Williams and Jim Clayton, a topic to be examined separately another time. In reading anything from this writer there are reports that occurred before the “aha moment” and others that occurred after. The ones after the epiphany are the ones with the most value to outsiders looking in.
Back to the pitch I was invited to make to a group of MHI leaders at a private dinner, I argued in part that consumers were an obviously missing piece of the ‘umbrella’ trade group that claimed to represent “all segments” of manufactured housing or factory-built housing.
That noted, as MHLivingNews has previously reported, MHI’s own past president Chris Stinebert not so subtly slapped at his own trade association in his parting message to the industry before his Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) presumably kicked in.
Not unlike this writer’s pitch to MHI corporate and “elected” leaders, Stinebert said the following.
The old canard about the best place to hide is in plain site has merit, so long as someone or some group is subtle enough about it.
MHI has long said things that at least superficially from a corporate perspective seemed to make sense.
But with the passage of time, patterns emerged. As former MHI member and award winner Marty Lavin said to this writer several times, pay more attention to what people do than to what they say.
Not to brag, because I have already admitted yet again to being effectively duped for a time about the true nature of MHI. As an award-winner in history several times and by various institutions, I know a thing or two about the importance of examining the past to understand the present. Understanding the past and the present give clues to the future. Part of the reason that the epiphany hit me was precisely because there were years of nagging disconnects for me about why MHI was so ineffective at doing what they claimed they wanted to accomplish. Once the lightbulb went off, the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place. In fairness, I did for a transitional period test that premise about MHI being a perpetual motion machine that goes nowhere fast.
MHI exists in part to posture. But MHI, per sources, also exist to provide a forum where big companies interact with smaller ones. Those smaller firms become what we dubbed Buffett’s Buffet.
It is at this point useful to note that on multiple occasions, this writer has invited MHI, their corporate leaders, and even Berkshire Hathaway board members and cheer leaders to respond to the various allegations against we’ve publicly lodged them. They have routinely declined.
Legally and objectively thinking, I understand that corporate choice not to engage. They likely not only understand but recognize that whatever they say publicly could be used against them in a court of law. Indeed, perhaps one reason this writer was both embraced – and to a certain extent, mildly feared – is precisely because we had a habit of publishing what MHI or key leaders said. We continue to do so.
As time marches on, it becomes ever more obvious – as Lavin pointed out – that what was said differed from what was actually done.
Or as the rival Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) President, CEO and attorney Mark Weiss put it, there is an “Illusion of Motion” at MHI. As noted above, it is a different way of saying that they posture behavior but fail to actually do what they claim.
MHLivingNews has posted one of the most heavily-accessed articles online about manufactured housing. For several months running, hundreds of thousands of hits occurred on the report linked below.
At its core, the next report includes the nearly hour long video with transcript of the interview by Robert Miles, a pro-Berkshire Hathaway fellow, with Kevin Clayton.
It is worth noting that the interview seems to be a kind of pitch for businesses that Berkshire may want to acquire to hear why Kevin Clayton is so happy with Warren Buffett and being part of the Berkshire family.
Back to the documented invitation by MHLivingNews and MHProNews for Clayton, their attorney, MHI leaders, their attorneys, or Berkshire Hathaway, and their attorneys to respond to our published reports is this point.
Even a pro-Berkshire Hathaway cheerleader like attorney and author Lawrence Cunningham will not explicitly and publicly not defend them?!?! See that linked below. There is a defining silence. As believers in constitutionally-protected rights, like the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Because anything that they say may be used against them in a court of law.
As we reported recently in that report linked above, Cunningham was one of several given an opportunity to respond or defend Berkshire, Clayton Homes, their affiliated lenders (21st Mortgage and Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance), MHI, or some arguably allied larger brands that are still smaller than Clayton.
One might think that Berkshire could nudge Cunningham into such a public discussion or debate. After all, even if Cunningham lost, it would be Cunningham saying it, not Berkshire, MHI or some corporate official. Yet, they still have not done so. Why not?
Logically, they must not think it is worth the risk?!? Logically, they must think that even attorney Cunningham could not win such a debate?
So, MHI – as arguably a de facto surrogate for Clayton, 21st, and Vanderbilt, et al – could have tried to debate for them. But they too have chickened out?!?
MHI member Andy Gedo did try to debate this writer publicly in 2020. That debate was all done online. It was accessed on their site over a thousand times and it has been accessed on our site hundreds of thousands of times. Ponder the point that Gedo had no time limits in responding. He may or may not have had help in sharing his debating points from others involved at MHI.
After a noble effort, Gedo made several useful admissions. MHI member Gedo then publicly tossed in the proverbial towel. One of those useful admissions he made is spotlighted in the quote shown below. It links to the entire debate.
That quote from Gedo supports what Kevin Clayton said in the video with transcript linked below. Here is one pull-quote. The link below that quote goes to the entire transcript and video.
Once an understanding of how the MHI purported con game was being played, it began to get easier and easier to find evidence to support it. But we are not alone.
So, to the headline point of MHI painting themselves into a corner is this. Once the MHI scheme or deception is understood and repeatedly revealed, their ability to deceive is steadily eroded. A bit of human psychology and sociology applies. There are those who are MHI members that absolutely believe that the organization is sincere in its efforts. I try to keep in mind that I too was in that group, but that all began to change about 7 years ago. Again, not to make myself into a total dummy for those first few years, I kept asking questions at MHI meetings and between meetings about why certain obvious things where not being done.
That tension between what was said, what was occurring, the distinctions between what MHARR said and what MHI said are why for several years, we began to use the mantra “We Provide, You Decide.” © We provided MHARR’s take, that of MHI, and that of several state trade groups that were members of MHEC, and other nonprofits or associations too. By providing several sides of an issue, including resident perspectives, hopefully, enough information was generated to give people an opportunity to make an informed decision.
That noted, once more, a disclosure is warranted. There were certain resident issues that merited a better presentation by this writer and our publication. We have since we began to unravel the purported con involving MHI have attempted to shed sharper light on valid resident concerns.
That noted, back to MHI.
Like any con artist, the case can be made that, of necessity, MHI has to continue to pretend that they are an authentic trade group and not just a shill for their corporate masters.
But the case can be made that a similar hiding in plain sight public con game eventually collapsed on billionaires and billion-dollar corporations such as Bernie Madoff, WorldCom, and Enron.
The deep dive linked below is on a vital topic for millions of manufactured homeowners and affordable housing seekers. This strikes near the heart of the headline topic.
Short version on the above?
MHI’s CEO Lesli Gooch, Ph.D. made it plain in a public address that their organization is supporting a big corporate backed plan that one must think benefits those corporations.
But that same corporate backed plan arguably undermines millions of manufactured home owners and affordable housing seekers. In fact, MHLivingNews reported that concern was raised about a year ago by Tom Hardiman, the executive director of the Modular Home Builders Association (MHBA).
While it is a detailed report about MHI’s Gooch and the FHFA documented tip, it is one that manufactured homeowners, affordable housing advocates, and affordable home seekers should unpack and understand.
Coincidentally, ironically, or by design, within 3 hours after MHProNews published that report, MHI’s own email said the following in a message to their members.
“MHI Participates in FHFA Listening Session
In remarks before the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises), MHI emphasized the need for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to meet their statutory duty to serve manufactured housing and urged FHFA to continue to hold the Enterprises’ responsible for meeting these obligations.” MHProNews reported that out. However, we also called it out as lip service. After all, what MHI “emphasized” or previously “urged” over the course of numerous years is FEDERAL LAW.
MHARR has pushed for the full implementation of the law for over a decade. But the case can be made that behind the scenes, MHI and other insiders have subverted the DTS process. Even without voices making that allegation, the fact that a beneficial law has not yet been implemented should make that claim obvious. It was so obvious, that with MHI’s Gooch, her associate, dozens of nonprofits, numbers of residents, FHFA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac officials all present, this writer publicly called them out for their disgraceful betrayal of millions of consumers.
MHI has made a habit for the past few years of showing off their photo opportunities and videos with often high-level elected and appointed public officials. But what MHI’s access proves is that that have they have either not been able to get existing law fully and properly implemented. Or, that they have not asked for or seriously pushed for public law to be fully implemented. Either way, they are revealed to be ineffective at best, or as betrayers at worst.
Who is benefiting, and how many millions are harmed by the manufactured housing financing scandal was previously examined by MHLivingNews in the report linked further below.
Additionally, the problems that residents face on placement and financing issues were carefully unpacked in the report linked below.
Returning to their email on 2.17.2021, the Arlington, VA based trade group said: “MHI also focused its remarks on the Enterprises’ appraisal-related policies, practices and processes, specifically as it relates to Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s new programs – MH Advantage and CHOICEHome, respectively.” That confirms what MHProNews alleged. While MHI did not admit that it was Lesli Gooch who delivered those remarks, that is a detail that does not change the reality. Again, we have documentation that she made those comments that MHI now admits to in their own email. See our deep dive linked here.
It was Warren Buffett who jokingly called his vice chairman and partner Charlie Munger his “partner in crime,” as Quora and other sources have cited. There are times when someone should be taken at their word, right?
If Samuel “Sam” Strommen with Knudson Law is correct in making the case that several Berkshire brands, MHI, and their key members are guilty of “felony” acts, then Buffett wasn’t joking, was he?
A onetime professional pal apparently showed his true colors by claiming he would debate me on MHI CEO’s Lesli Gooch’s performance. But after Tim Williams of the Ohio Manufactured Home Association (OMHA) saying he would debate; he never did that debate. Repeated offers were made. Why did he duck out?
The MHI and Berkshire Hathaway Connected shell game Are Arguably Exposed.
Their own inside or outside attorney won’t debate. Their own leaders and surrogates won’t discuss their effectiveness, or lack thereof. The only robust public debate was with Andy Gedo. He tossed in the towel, after making admission useful to the thesis outlined and linked from this news analysis.
After years of all talk, but no serious results for independents — much less for manufactured homeowners and consumers — the gig is up for MHI. What has been portrayed as a dishonest plan and activities by voices inside and outside of MHI has been discovered.
The MHI con has been so well documented, and with essentially no pushback after their initial threats ‘to sue’ where deflected based upon our referencing the law.
That said, they are likely going to carry on for a time. After all, so too did Madoff, WorldCom (WorldCon?!) and Enron. But those three finally collapsed. It may just a question of time.
That said, it must be recalled how this con has been sustained. Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men had the inside track at the Obama-Biden White House.
It was about 2 years ago that a Democratic congressional staffer told MHLivingNews that MHI had a reputation for being “anti-consumer.”
We will see how serious the new players in Washington, D.C. are about their claims of equal justice regardless of stature, money, or power.
Until then, if you or someone you care about are about to do business with a MHI member firm, you may want to think twice. See if they are white-hat or black-hat players. To learn more, see the linked and related reports above, below, and that follow the byline and notices to learn more.
What no one has publicly disputed with MHLivingNews or MHProNews is that MHAction is funded via dark money channels by Warren Buffett. It is part of the web of nonprofits that arguably have been used to directly or obliquely benefit Buffett’s corporate and financial interests.
To learn more, see the documented report linked below.
There is always more to know.
But until next time, “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.