#NCSEN: Trailer Parks AND Tholl Roads? Wow.

thom sighWell, the Dems TOLD us it was coming.  And here it is.:

As he crisscrosses North Carolina campaigning for U.S. Senate, Thom Tillis likes to remind voters of his modest upbringing. The Republican candidate and former business executive describes a childhood with parents who struggled to make ends meet, and “when times got really tough, we lived in a trailer park.”

As a newlywed high-school graduate working in a warehouse, he found himself living in a mobile home once more, Tillis recounted recently.

What Tillis fails to mention in the campaign trail rags-to-riches story is that he bought a trailer park in early 2007 — an investment he hoped would increase in value while providing him rental income. But now, as he presses his run for the Senate, the story of that trailer park may cause voters to question whether Tillis used the trappings of his office as a state legislator for personal gain.

That’s because in the months after he bought the trailer park, Tillis introduced state legislation and sought political compromises that likely would have increased the value of his property.

Tillis’ Senate campaign noted that he fully complied with the law during the entire process. A spokesman also stressed that Tillis did not advocate for specific bills and, indeed, helped facilitate a public feedback process that ultimately doomed any chance of a bill passing.

At first glance, this appears to be an effort to change the subject from all of those stories about Hagan family members profiting from the federal stimulus. Let’s hear some more about Speaker Thom’s trailer park: 

On March 14, 2007, it changed ownership. Tillis bought the three-acre lot with 10 mobile homes from a Huntersville Board of Adjustments official named Ron Julian, a well-known real estate developer who owned numerous parcels of land on the eastern fringes of town.

For those keeping score at home, that’s about two months after Tillis was sworn in to his first House term.  MORE: 

Julian had onlytimeline owned the property for six months before selling it to Tillis. He had purchased it on Sept. 5, 2006, for $180,000, intending to fix up some of the more neglected homes. “The houses were garbage,” Julian told HuffPost in an interview. “I fixed ’em up and made it a nice place to live.”

That March, Tillis closed on a $395,000 bid for the trailer park. For Julian, who would be elected Huntersville city commissioner later that year, it was a gain of more than 120 percent in six months.

“I’d never even met Thom Tillis,” Julian said, “and it was actually my wife who told me, ‘I bet you could sell this property for double the price. … I guess Thom Tillis just isn’t a very savvy real estate investor.”

Tillis’ campaign said he purchased the property as a long-term investment with the intention of having his brother Rick manage the homes. He did, in fact, have real estate acumen. His wife Susan Tillis was and is a real estate agent.

But Tillis also had political insight.

Tillis began his first term as Huntersville’s representative in the state legislature on Jan. 1, 2007. Around that time, an economic boom was changing the demographics of Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte and Huntersville. The success of Charlotte-based Bank of America was transforming the sleepy college town into thesecond-largest financial capital on the East Coast.

For towns like Huntersville, one way to absorb a rapidly expanding population was by folding county land into the city limits, a process called annexation. In North Carolina, the state legislature could approve a town’s request to annex county land, even if citizens objected. Once those properties became part of a town, homeowners stood to benefit from municipal services like police patrols and garbage collection. It also meant properties just inside the town’s old borders would increase in value, since they would be surrounded by newly annexed, higher-priced real estate.

As it happened, in the spring of 2007, one of the areas considered by the state legislature for annexation was the land abutting the trailer park that newly elected state representative Thom Tillis had just purchased.

Okay.  So, you ask: What’s the benefit for Mr. T?  Read On: 

It’s unclear when Tillis first learned of the annexation plan. Daniel Keylin, a spokesman for Tillis’ Senate campaign, said the annexation “process takes years to develop” — meaning that consideration predated his boss’s election to the state legislature.

The first public record of Tillis’ knowledge was March 2, 2007. That’s when Huntersville Mayor Kim Phillips and City Commissioner Sarah McAuley met with Tillis and another area legislator to come up with “legislation that would annex into the Town of Huntersville the entire sphere of influence that’s not now in the Town limits, both on the east side and the west side” of the town, according to the official minutes of a town board meeting held March 5. tp

Since his district covered the bulk of the land under consideration, Tillis was given the responsibility to “introduce a bill for us, if we agree to it,” McAuley told attendees at the meeting.

Before Tillis introduced the bill in the legislature, the Huntersville city commissioners unveiled the proposal publicly. At a town board meeting on March 5, they announced a hearing on the plan to annex more than 30 square miles of county land and absorb it into Huntersville.

Were the plan to be approved, it would have drastically redrawn the map of Huntersville real estate, turning land that had previously been on the edge of town into centrally located property. Tillis’ trailer park had been just blocks within the town limits. The land under consideration for annexation was directly to its east. After decades of being on the outskirts of Huntersville, 11826 Ramah Church Road would be firmly in the town’s interior.

And the plot continues to thicken:

On March 28, things grew complicated for the annexation plan. That day, Tillis unveiled House Bill 1133, the Huntersville Annexation Bill, in the state legislature. It was referred to a legislative committee.

What Tillis filed wasn’t the original annexation plan discussed with Huntersville officials. It was a new plan, which called for annexing land only on the eastern side of town. Tillis told the Charlotte Observer that he no longer believed the western area outside Huntersville’s boundary should be included. He didn’t cite a reason for the change, saying only that “the eastern and western land should be separate issues.”



Tillis’ trailer park was located on the eastern side of town.

The annexation bill, however, had already morphed into a full-fledged political headache. Voters were angry at what they viewed as a government land grab.

In response, Tillis posted a long and carefully worded notice on his website, reassuring people that just because he had introduced the bill, “does not suggest that the measure will move forward.”tpsign

On the contrary, he said, “as a condition for filing the bill, I have asked the town to complete due diligence, including public notice through the print media, a mailing to every affected household, and a public hearing on April 12th. My goal is to provide citizens with every opportunity to have their questions answered and to have their concerns heard.”

In early April, the debate over annexation grew more heated. During a public forum that Tillis attended, residents railed against the plan.

“The biggest thing that bothers me, is why should anybody else tell us what to do with our land? We pay taxes on all our stuff until the day we die,” county resident Calvin Matthews said at that April 12, 2007, forum. “But no one should have the right to tell us what to do with our property.”

Tillis tried to appeal to the angry residents. “Generally speaking, when you hear about annexation, it doesn’t sound like a good thing,” Tillis said. “And we are going to take that into account [and] figure out if this is the appropriate thing to do at this time.”

Public opinion, however, was hardening. When an attendee called for a show of hands on the annexation, not a single hand went up in favor.

That Tillis was asked to introduce the bill and that he opened it up for larger debate, his campaign said, is evidence that he was a shepherd of the annexation process and not an advocate for it.

“Thom Tillis did his job as a state representative by introducing the bill at the request of the city of Huntersville, he followed state statutes, and the record clearly shows he helped open the process up for community input, which eventually led to the annexation process being halted,” Keylin said.

The official minutes from that contentious meeting, however, show that as much as Tillis was absorbing concern over the proposal, he attempted to assuage it, going so far as to recount a successful annexation effort in a neighboring town, where he served on the town board.

It was for naught. A little more than a week later, the annexation plan was effectively shelved. On April 23, Tillis announced that “House Bill 1133 (Huntersville Annexation) will be deferred … based on the feedback received at the public hearing.” In its place, the town would assemble an advisory board — political doublespeak for doing nothing.


Eventually, larger economic trends overwhelmed discussion of annexation. The collapse of the housing market that set in motion the Great Recession tore through Charlotte, decimating the region’s property values.

The poor economy didn’t dissuade Tillis from more real estate speculation. From 2008 to 2010, he and his family-run holding company, TRT Holdings, purchased at least four investment properties in foreclosure and rented them out, much as they did with the trailer park. By June 2009, TRT Holdings had amassed more than $550,000 worth of houses and trailer parks in low-rent areas around Charlotte.

Tillis continued to push legislation that had the potential to affect his real estate interests. On June 13, he went to the House floor to lobby against a small franchise tax on limited-liability corporations that own and rent property. Landlords, he warned, could “be subject to hundreds of dollars of unanticipated expenses.” Tillis’ procedural efforts to stop the hike eventually failed. But in the final budget, the proposed tax increase was excluded.


Four years after he bought it, Tillis rid himself of the trailer park on Ramah Church Road. His brother had moved out of the state and he lacked the time to manage it himself, his campaign said. He sold the property in April 2011 for $250,000 — far less than the $450,000 he had originally sought for the park when he first listed it for sale in 2009, or the $395,000 he paid for it in 2007. The sale brought the property full circle. His wife, Susan Tillis, was the broker for the transaction. The buyer was Ron Julian.


15 thoughts on “#NCSEN: Trailer Parks AND Tholl Roads? Wow.

  1. OMG! I have been looking into this for a long time. All the missing pieces have been put together.

  2. If i didn’t dislike dementia man Harry Reid I would vote to send Hagan back to D.C. Unfortunately our choices are 2 sleaze buckets and I understand the Dems have been pouring money into the Haugh campaign to guarantee Hagan returns to represent us like she really knows what or listens to her constituents. She and Burr are on the same page as they are both establishment trolls.

    1. Let’s face it, the Libertarian Party is basically working for the demonrats. We can’t expect perfection. I will hold my nose and vote for Tillis and hopefully we can push him to the right. Hagan will always lean to the extreme left.

      1. The Libertarian Party does work for the Democrats on one particularly important issue and that is illegal immigration. The pizza delivery man, Haugh, who is their NC candidate phrases it as ”open borders means open restaurants”.

        But then again, Thom Tillis also works for the Democrat position, not the Republican one on that issue. He phrases it to the NC Farm Bureau that he supports ”a pathway to citizenship” for illegal aliens.

        I wish we had a candidate on the ballot who supports the Republican platform position on illegal immigration. I could get very excited to vote for a candidate like that!

    2. Many experts have looked at the Senate races and written articlrs with the conclusion that the odds of the Democrats holding onto the majority in the Senate ate slim. The excuse you are giving for voting Tillis is weak at best.

      The NCGOP supported Progressives in their efforts to place Tillis on the ballot for November and now Conservatives don’t have a candidate to vote for.

      Everybody at the state conventions for the last few years knew the plan was to have Tillis as the candidate. They brought in Tillis’s buddy Karl Rove to speak at the Convention and rally the establishment troops and they pushed Tillis’s buddy Harris to run and peel away the evangelical support from Brannon. The Harris campaign was a whos who of NCGOP staffers and was designed from the beginning to be a firewall against the Conservatives.

      The blame for the loss in November will rest squarely at the feet of the NCGOP.

    3. Frances, I truly understand the problem. Thom is not man I knew. and I have never ever voted for a Democrat. But, according to FOX they are not even counting on NC when they juggle where they are picking up seats.

  3. Interesting that in 2007 Tillis cared about the opinion of his constituents. At that time his need to get reelected trumped his desire for personal gain. He was, after all, looking forward to bigger fish. Now he is ignoring his constituents overwhelming displeasure with the plan to build HOT lanes across NC. In fact he has not personally attended a single meeting about the issue in his district to hear citizen concerns. Kay Hagan voted against the desires of her constituents to implement Obamacare. Tillis is doing the same now with HOT Lanes. This does not bode well for the future should he win the Senate seat in NC.

  4. Huntersville Town Commissioned Ron Julian first came out AGAINST the toll roads, even giving interviews on the local Fox News station to reporter Israel Balderas. Then he went to Raleigh with other town leaders for a visit with Speaker Tillis . After a NC DOT sponsored meeting about the tolls at Huntersville Town Hall a few days later he was heard by several people as he said with wide eyes, “In Raleigh Tom Tillis is God.” He repeated that phrase again, then he said, “I agree with you about the toll roads, but I will not be speaking out against them publicly. I’m afraid it will hurt my (real estate) business.”
    At a political forum at Huntersville Town Hall later he explained his position on toll roads to voters this way: “I was against the toll roads, but then I studied the issue and now I support them.”
    After that same NC DOT sponsored meeting Israel Balderas told some of the citizens that his editors were getting phone calls from Raleigh discouraging them from covering the toll issue. Evidently he was hitting a nerve.
    Israel Baldedal continued to hit the issue hard until he was fired a short time later. The news stories he had produced on the tolls were pulled off of the stations web site.

    1. Israel Balderas worked for the tv station that Robert Pittenger’s wife owns. The last report Balderas ever filed with that station exposed the corruption behind the tolls including pittenger’s Garden Porkway toll road. It would not shock me if Pittenger somehow stands to benefit from this latest toll effort as well.

  5. If you drag a hundred dollar bill through a trailer park you will get the trailer park annexed. I am not too sure this is the October surprise. It is pretty hard reading and I do not think the jury will find Tillis liable.

  6. A lot of words and time spent on “much ado about nothing.’You really can’t see the woods for all the trees can you.The big fish are not even in office but swimming in their pools in Palm Beach calling to see how their wineries are doing in the foothills.They don’t really care which one gets elected.Roads will be built,contracts let,and the doors will always be open for them, no matter who occupies the office.They are god’s in NC.Tillis is far down on their call list.Everyone takes their calls.As for Tillis,he is a decent honest fellow that if elected will in all likelihood have a 95 to 100% conservative voting record.Hagen comes from a political family from Florida eyeball deep in shady dealings.Seasoned in cutthroat politics.If Tillis doesn’t hit her hard with strong negatives soon it might be to late.I expected him to drive his positives up early with positive ads but he didn’t which was a bad mistake.Now his only strong chance is to go hard negative.And if the best you can do is some muddled trailer park where he lost money,well,nice try.Makes Hagen look like Warren Buffet.

    1. A 95 to 100% conservative voting record? You must be either smoking something other than a tobacco product or relying on a really bogus rating like National Journal. As a legislator, Tillis’ conservative voting record from Civitas was D’s and F’s. And the National Association for Gun Rights rates him a D- on 2nd amendment issues.

      And given Tillis’ bitter vindictive war against conservative legislators who did not do his bidding, I would hardly call him a ”decent fellow”.

      1. You never give up do you.The NRA,a legitimate gun rights group and the largest, endorsed Thom Tillis calling him,”a champion on gun rights issues.”.And Civitas did not give Tillis low ratings as Tillis didn’t cast any votes that were not conservative.You are just full of BS.Go and support whatever fringe candidate you can dig up.Peddle your paranoia and misinformation to each other.

        1. Sorry to burst your hero worship bubble of Thommy Tillis, but I would refer you to a number of past articles on this site on Tillis’ Civitas Conservative Effectiveness Rating scores. As Speaker, Tillis did not vote, so he is not scored. But before he was Speaker, he did cast votes, and his ratings were D’s and F’s. Look it up.

          NRA? That group is more interested in establishment protection than in which candidate really supports gun rights. They have often endorsed liberal Democrats who were wishy-washy on gun rights over conservative Republicans who were strong 2nd amendment supporters. Only a huge conservative outcry forced NRA to back off on endorsing Harry Reid in 2012. The reliable pro-gun rights groups are National Association for Gun Rights and Gunowners of America. The latter split from NRA over the very issue of the unreliability of NRA’s political endorsements. Again, there are articles on this site on Tillis and his less than reliable position on 2nd amendment issues that you must have missed.

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