“This is disgusting and deserves wide attention. You have a Republican Attorney General engaged in politically motivated firings that will allow criminals to go free and hurt hundreds of thousands of homeowners being ripped off by the system.”
By: David Dayen
Maybe it’s because I’ve done so much reporting on the foreclosure fraud issue, but I have to admit to some surprise that the firing of two Assistant Attorney Generals down in Florida, the hotbed of the housing crisis, hasn’t gotten much attention nationally. In my mind, this is the state-based equivalent of the US Attorney scandal. You have a conservative Attorney General who has fired two investigators who were tasked by a previous Republican regime with finding violations of the law. When they proved too effective for the next regime to stomach, they were canned. And now, the new AG, Pam Bondi, is smearing their reputations.
Let’s first give some background. Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson were heading up investigations in the Florida Attorney General’s office on a series of crimes for over a year. Former AG Bill McCollum put them on this task, and they executed. Their interviews and collections of data were essential in rooting out fraud among document processors like Lender Processing Services, and the scores of foreclosure mill law firms operating in the state. Their presentation, “Unfair, Deceptive and Unconscionable Acts in Foreclosure Cases,” was so influential on the issues of fabricated and forged documents, that it is being used as evidence in a New York foreclosure fraud case against HSBC. The servicer for many HSBC loans, Ocwen, is cited repeatedly in Clarkson and Edwards’ report.
And then, in late May, they were forced to resign by the new AG, Pam Bondi.
“It just came out of nowhere,” said Edwards, who had worked in the attorney general’s economic crimes section for more than three years. “We were completely stunned.”
Less than a month before they were forced out, a supervisor cited their work as “instrumental in triggering a nationwide review of such practices.” Now, Edwards is convinced their sudden dismissals will have “a chilling effect” on those probes into the shoddy foreclosure practices that caused national outrage when they made headlines last fall.
Edwards and Clarkson weren’t even given notice or a severance package; they were just told May 20 that they could resign or be fired, and would lose their association with the AG office by close of business that day.
I don’t think you can deny that this was a politically motivated firing. These investigators dug too deep and uncovered too much fraud happening in a very powerful industry. And their investigations were catching the eye of other AGs, threatening to have a national impact. So they had to go.
Check out the rest from David here…