If you scratch deeply enough, people of good will can find some common ground with others of good will. There will be disagreements between people. It has been so, since ‘the fall,’ and is expected to continue that way until time comes to an end.
With that principle in mind, we will look in this column at a Cautionary Tale told by Michelle Smith. Smith is the President of the Golden State Manufactured-Home Owners League (GSMOL).
Part of the group’s self-description is shown in this screen capture from their website, below.
Writing in Capital Region Mobilehome Magazine, Michelle Smith, the GSMOL President penned the following “Cautionary Tale” about the group known as “Manufactured Housing Action,” or MHAction.
Let’s be clear, as regular readers of ours know, we’re no fans of MHAction for several reasons. That said, let’s start with Smith’s letter, and then do some commentary and analysis.
A Cautionary Tale by Michelle Smith, GSMOL President
Recently, the GSMOL Board of Directors received a written complaint from a member about a group called MHAction. After doing some research, we found this group does not have their own non-profit standing but rather, they use other groups’ legal standing to solicit funding. They have been calling and emailing GSMOL leaders, asking for personal meetings, apparently hoping to build their membership from our leaders.
According to the GSMOL member’s complaint, MHAction takes credit from their association with other groups’ accomplishments, then uses those “pirated” accomplishments to apply for grant money under the category of “Education”. Their website shows that they are a New York based group with local leaders in California.
- MHAction (501c4) is a fiscally sponsored project AKA Advocacy Fund and
2. MH Education Fund, (501c3) is a fiscally sponsored project at the Tides Foundation
It’s apparent that MH Action is competing with GSMOL for Educational Grants;
trying to recruit GSMOL leaders into its group,
and trying to position itself to use GSMOL’s accomplishments to fuel their grant requests.
They did NOT do what they promised to do for the Humboldt County RSO group, yet they now claim THEY were the ones who successfully promoted the RSO in Humboldt County…this quote is directly from them: “MHAction has successfully pushed for advances in state and local policy including the passage of a rent stabilization ordinance in Humboldt County, California”
I am so suspect of this group that I stand by my oath to “protect and defend the purposes and interests of GSMOL…” from being publicly identified with MHAction. If my perceptions are correct, this group’s real intentions will be eventually revealed. In the meantime, I fear there could be legal investigations into this group which could reflect poorly on anyone associated with them. GSMOL’s Board decided not to have any public association with MH Action. Please be aware in case YOU get a phone call or email from anyone in this organization. “No thank you” is the best response.
MHLivingNews and our sister site, MHProNews, have spotlighted the problematic activities of MHAction several times. ICYMI, or need a refresher, you can see one of those looks at the related reports, linked below the by-line.
On the MHAction level, we completely understand the concerns that GSMOL President Smith’s letter raises.
Smith’s letter is interesting on several levels. Among them, and what we will zero in on today, is her reference to the Tides Foundation as a source for funding for MHAction.
About the Tides Foundation, which GSMOL’s Smith says Gives to MHAction
According to Influence Watch:
“The Tides Foundation is a progressive 501(c)(3) donor-advised fund provider that was named after a San Francisco Bay
Area left-of-center independent bookstore. Individuals and organizations can give money to the Tides Foundation, which, for an 8 percent fee, then directs that money to another organization or cause that the donor or the board of the Tides Foundation chooses.”
Influence Watch says, “It is difficult to know the full extent of the Tides Foundation’s donor network. As a dark money operation, the Tides Foundation is not required to release this information, even if it does release some aggregate numbers….”
“So, for example, from 1991 to 2013, Tides received 2,314 grants from 471 foundations totaling $522,950,992. In 2013 alone it received 181 grants from 107 foundations for a total of $42,557,073,” per that source.
That’s half a billion dollars during those years.
In 2015 were, Influence Watch says there the fifteen largest donors were:
- The Novo Foundation ($6,395,927)
Stop right there. The NoVo Foundation is their largest donor that year, and was for years. It is connected to billionaire investor, Warren Buffett. Warren’s youngest son Peter is the co-president of the NoVo Foundation, per Wikipedia.
Let’s ponder that for a few moments.
Buffett is the Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. The Berkshire conglomerate owns Clayton Homes, Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, 21st Mortgage Corporation, and numerous other service and suppliers to manufactured and conventional housing. Berkshire also has a large stake in Wells Fargo, which has been in the headlines for their purportedly unethical and/or illegal practices in recent years.
This report posted above by a local Tennessee NBC news affiliate doesn’t include Clayton’s denial of the allegation. But in fairness, other sources have told MHProNews that Clayton later denied the charges. Clayton said in part that numerous routine audits have turned up nothing.
But their denial statement is arguably misleading, per other mainstream media, Washington D.C. regulators, and manufactured housing industry sources.
Such federal investigations and procedures can take time, per federal, legal and other sources. It should be noted that our understanding of some of these troubling claims by investigators and media against Clayton, Buffett, and Berkshire Hathaway has evolved, as the allegations and evidence mount.
There is more to unpack here. But this is more than enough to digest for now. MHAction, says GSMOL’s president, tries to grab credit for efforts they did not do. They are financed indirectly through Warren Buffett’s family foundation. Clayton and their lending has created reams of problematic news for manufactured homes. MHAction has likewise created problems for manufactured home owners.
Activist George Soros is also linked to Tides and MHAction, one example is noted in the report below.
A cautionary tale?
Should Smith’s caution to GSMOL include Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway, Clayton and their related operations?
Manufactured homes are an amazing option, that’s something we and GSMOL would agree upon. We would agree that MHAction is problematic for the industry’s home owners, see the related reports further below.
There are clearly problematic professional players in the manufactured home industry. Manufactured homes are a good housing option, as we have personally experienced. But as in any big ticked purchase, buyers should do their homework and research before doing business with any specific company.
When you do business with a good, local business, you will often find the dream you wanted can come true. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Lifestyle news, factory built home news, analysis, and commentary.)
See Related Reports, further below. (All Third Party Images and Content are Provided Under Fair Use Guidelines.)