Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hot4Trott: Romney's Support Of The "Foreclosure King" Brings Spotlight On Grassroots Claims

Ronna Romney McDaniel (Anders Kiledal/Collegian)

By Brandon Hall     
(Email him at

>>>Yo, Ronna! You're awesome n' I'm'a let you finish...And you might be one of the best MIGOP Chairs of all time! But grassroots, doe?! 

(Just channeling my inner-Kanye after seeing him on last night's SNL special haha, still wish Beck would have pushed him off stage at the Grammy Awards...)

Winston Churchill famously said, 'The farther back you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.' 

Ronna Romney McDaniel is far from inexperienced as some supporters of her opponents in the MIGOP Chair race, Kim Shmina and Norm Hughes, claim. In fact-Romney-McDaniel is well acquainted with multiple facets of the political process.

We have refused to repeat most of the attacks against her, and for good reason-they were outlandish and often, inappropriate.

Romney-McDaniel, who serves as Michigan's female representative to the RNC, has been involved in political campaigns since she was a teenager. One can't hold the fact that some of those campaigns happened to involve family members against her.

Romney McDaniel's site notes she "has been a grassroots conservative activist her
entire life. She learned politics from the ground up beginning as a driver for
her mother’s US Senate Race in 1994. She has worked on many campaigns
from school board to Presidential.

Throughout her career, Ronna has managed multi-million dollar budgets,
overseen grassroots campaigns and media projects, been responsible for the
management and personnel of staffs, been a successful fundraiser, and taken
part in all aspects of campaign and political projects.

In February 2014, Ronna was elected the Republican National Committee
Woman from Michigan. Ronna has served as a Precinct Delegate, as a
District Committee Executive Member and State Committeewoman in
Michigan. She Chaired the Women for Mitt Michigan Coalition in 2012, and
served as National Delegate to the Tampa Convention representing
Michigan’s 11th District.

In 2013, she served as Co-Chair for the Mackinac Leadership Conference
and was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Board of
Marriage and Family Therapists, being recently elected vice-chair by the

Also: "She attended college at Brigham Young University — where Sen. Mike Lee was her student body president "

>>>One issue that has been hotly contested is whether or not Romney-McDaniel is a "grassroots conservative" as her literature claims. It really depends on how one defines grassroots. However, Romney-McDaniel's support of Dave Trott in his primary against Kerry Bentivolio is immensely important and quite revealing.

Like the Amash/Ellis primary, that Trott/Bentivolio race is one to remember where people sided. While not a total "litmus test," it is part of the rumination process for many informed conservative voters when deciding who to vote for, if applicable.

Who is David Trott, aside from one of the newest members of the Michigan Congressional delegation?

The Detroit Free Press notes: "Trott became a leader in the foreclosure industry that boomed in 2008 when the housing market went bust by buying up companies needed to complete a foreclosure from beginning to end. And he profits at each step of the process.

Besides his law firm that handles legal work, Trott owns or has a financial interest in the document company that processes paperwork, a newspaper that publishes required legal notices, the title companies that do the deed work, and a large real estate firm that sometimes handles the homes on which his clients have foreclosed...

For lenders looking to take back a home from a delinquent borrower, Trott & Trott offered a unique one-stop-shopping business model. For Trott, there was money to be made on each foreclosure that came through his business empire — in 2009, by his own accounting, he handled 80,000 in Michigan alone. 

The banks paid his firm a flat fee for each foreclosure completed — exactly how much, Trott won’t say. Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that beyond his firm’s legal fees, Trott’s businesses generated hundreds of millions of dollars for him and his business partners...

 Trott’s business was so valuable, Detroit Legal News took out a $15-million life insurance policy on Trott and paid him a $500,000 annual consulting fee, as long as his law firm provided at least 1,000 foreclosure notices per month, the SEC filings show."

Kerry Bentivolio is about as grassroots as it gets. A former school teacher, mall Santa, veteran, and all around average guy, Bentivolio has been hated by the establishment since the beginning. They even tried to run Nancy Cassis against him in a write-in campaign to prevent him from winning the primary back in 2012.

When David Trott announced he would run against Bentivolio, he named Romney-McDaniel as one of his campaign leaders. The Detroit Free Press wrote:

"While Bentivolio struggled to attract the support of high-placed Republicans in local circles last year — and won despite that — Trott can already claim such backing: He was part of former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s finance team and counts among his campaign co chairs former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, Wayne County Commissioner Laura Cox, Ronna Romney McDaniel and former state Rep. Andrew (Rocky) Raczkowski." 

Bentivolio, for his part, is still quite upset over Romney McDaniel's high profile role in the race that saw him get "evicted" by Trott, the "Foreclosure king." He recently took to Facebook, writing:

"Let's me see if I understand you correctly? You want me to support someone who betrayed her party faithful and now you want me to support her as the MI GOP Chair? What? Are you crazy! I placed her in the same category as I placed Jane Fonda. Sorry. I fought in two wars for my country, I don't kiss anyone's ring nor their puppet master's ass. I'm supporting Norm Hughes."
Bentivolio, left, Trott, right

Trott was involved heavily with Fannie and Freddie Mac according to USA Today:

"With 96 attorneys, the Farmington Hills firm is one of two law firms in Michigan authorized by both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage underwriters, to represent mortgage servicers foreclosing on government-backed mortgages.

"David Trott, either through Trott & Trott or individually, has a complete monopoly on everything that goes on post-foreclosure on someone's home," said Steve Dibert of MFI-Miami, who works as a mortgage investigator for homeowners in foreclosure.

Trott owns Attorneys Title, which researches and files deeds, the Detroit Legal News, which publishes the legally required foreclosure notices, and Trott Recovery Services, which manages abandoned properties for banks."

That article also shines light on the absolute hypocrisy of Mitt Romney-who blasted Newt Gingrich for "cashing in" on the foreclosure crisis by consulting for Fannie and Freddie-yes Mitt has no problem taking $200,000 from Trott via his super Pac.

"A Detroit-area law firm that represents mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in foreclosure and eviction cases contributed $200,000 to a super PAC supporting Republican Mitt Romney for president.

That super PAC, Restore Our Future, has run ads against rival Newt Gingrich attacking his ties to Freddie Mac and accusing him of "cashing in" on the foreclosure crisis.The contribution, dated Dec. 27, was written from the corporate account of Trott & Trott PC...

In debates, ads and stump speeches, Romney has blasted Gingrich for his role as a consultant for Freddie Mac after he left Congress in 1999. "He made $1.6 million in his company, the very institution that helped stand behind the huge housing crisis here in Florida," Romney said in Dunedin, Fla."

Sure, some people need to be foreclosed on, and it's a difficult field where emotions run high. Some argue, though, that Trott has failed to work with homeowners solely so he can get more foreclosures. And they may be right.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

"In 2009, the federal government launched massive housing assistance programs to try to stem the avalanche of foreclosures; Michiganders alone lost 500,000 homes during the crisis. The assistance was available through banks.

Trott’s firm was hired by the banks to bargain in good faith with borrowers to modify loans with incentives such as reduced principal, lower interest rates or longer payback periods.

But in state and federal lawsuits reviewed by the Free Press, dozens of delinquent borrowers complained that they were turned down for minor problems, such as misplaced documents, confusion over deadlines or poor communication.

Trott, in recent interviews, said that although his firm had the authority to assist homeowners in stopping foreclosures — and was even required by state law to meet with troubled homeowners to discuss their options — he preferred to defer to the banks and mortgage companies, which often gave the thumbs down to new deals.

Trott denies that he or his bank clients mistreated homeowners seeking loan modifications.

“I don’t purposefully avoid giving someone a loan modification to make more money,” he told the Free Press. “It suggests I’m unethical.”

But he acknowledged that he makes more money by foreclosing than by stopping the process with a loan modification.

“Absolutely,” he said. “You could say the same thing about a doctor who says you’re healthy now. I don’t need to see you anymore.”

“The only way he makes money is to take people’s homes,” said attorney Valerie Moran, who helped a retired nurse keep her Walled Lake home after a two-year legal battle.


"In 2012, the U.S. Justice Department sued the nation’s top five banks for mishandling foreclosures and failing to adequately assist struggling homeowners in obtaining money they were entitled to under federal programs — loan modifications typically handled through foreclosure law firms such as Trott & Trott."

The Freep article concludes:

"It’s unclear how much Trott and his companies make on each foreclosure, and he declined to say. But lawsuits and other public records provide some hints.

A lawsuit filed by James and Melissa Dahl of Swartz Creek listed some of the fees that Trott & Trott charged on behalf of their lender, Bank of America, and that were passed on to them. Trott charged $1,152 for legal work and $260 for a title search.

The Dahls were making regular payments on their home after obtaining a loan modification in March 2010, but at the behest of the bank, Trott & Trott sold the house anyway at a sheriff’s sale in 2013. Three months later, after the couple sued, the bank gave the house back to them in a letter “rescinding” the sale, but the Dahls didn’t get reimbursed for any of the fees.

The Dahls are continuing to sue Trott & Trott and the bank for alleged violations of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, claiming intentional infliction of emotional distress. Bank of America declined to discuss the matter because the litigation has not been resolved.

“These people had money; these weren’t deadbeats who couldn’t make their payments. They did everything they were supposed to do,” said their attorney, Adam Alexander. Trott & Trott and the banks “are just bulldozing people out of their houses. They don’t want loans; they want foreclosures.”"

A liberal website noted, in an article entitled  "Big Business would like its Tea Party back," that:

"While Bentivolio would never vote for higher taxes on the rich or more regulation, he just isn’t a reliable voice for corporate America. Trott will be. Tea Partiers are messing with the “primal forces of nature” when they disobey big business. And if they don’t have a large enough political base, even they need to fear primary challenges."

Mr. Trott may well be a nice, innovative, hard-working guy who, contrary to some detractors, provided a legal, legitimate and valuable service. Dave Trott is a lot of things. Grassroots is not one of them.

Ronna's support of Trott over Bentivolio deserves attention for every delegate with concerns over unity and bringing the grassroots into the fold.

Romney-McDaniel may well win and turn out to be a great chair. She is experienced, passionate, smart, and hard working. In person, she is as enthusiastic as she is engaging. Unless you're running against her, it's really hard to dislike her.

 Romney-McDaniel is a lot of great things-I just don't know if grassroots is on that list. 

Even if she is "establishment," that doesn't mean she can't unite the party by bringing grassroots activists more into the fold to feel like real stakeholders. How she'll do it though, is unknown at this time.

Romney McDaniel says she will work to elect "platform Republicans." Bentivolio and his supporters would probably contend, when did Rep. Bentivolio fail to uphold the values of that platform?


Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.
>>>Email him at 


Photo By Darlene Dowling Thompson


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