AS FORECLOSURE QUESTIONS REMAIN, DEMOCRATIC LAWMAKERS SOBEL AND SOTO SEEK STATUS OF PROBE INTO FRAUD FIGHTERS DISMISSALS
TALLAHASSEE – More than one month after Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi sought the assistance of fellow Republican and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to probe the abrupt firings of two top attorneys fighting foreclosure fraud, questions continue to dog the circumstances surrounding their ouster.
On Friday, Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) and Representative Darren Soto (D-Orlando) launched questions of their own into the CFO’s probe, not only noting their concern that the Attorney General’s office remains involved in a less-than-arm’s-length capacity but asking when a conclusion to the probe was expected.
“As representatives of areas of the state especially ravaged by mortgage fraud and unscrupulous “foreclosure mill” operations, we have been especially interested in the circumstances surrounding the sudden dismissals of both [Theresa] Edwards and [June] Clarkson, particularly in light of their glowing annual performance reviews. Many of our constituents, as well as other concerned Floridians threatened with questionable foreclosure proceedings, remain equally intrigued,” wrote the Democratic lawmakers in a letter sent Friday to Atwater.
“While we remain troubled that it appears that the Department of Legal Affairs is not totally divorced from this probe (according to news reports, your IG Ned Luczynski is reporting directly to James Varnado, AG Bondi’s IG) we are hopeful that the investigation will examine more than just the process by which these two women were fired. And that a documented and well-founded justification for their dismissal is produced.”
The letter from Sobel and Soto marks the latest step taken by the lawmakers since learning of the controversial dismissal of Edwards and Clarkson earlier this year. As assistant Attorneys General, both women were at the forefront of investigating foreclosure fraud in the state, uncovering such unscrupulous practices as “robo signing” and “foreclosure mills.”
Public records sought by Sobel and Soto released thus far have yielded little insight into validation for their dismissals, although some correspondence has revealed complaints to Tallahassee officials about Edwards and Clarkson by a few of those under investigation in the foreclosure fraud scandal.
As Sobel and Soto then turned to federal authorities for assistance and public pressure mounted, the Attorney General finally opted to turn to a fellow Republican Cabinet member for support by launching what she touted was an “outside” investigation. Tapping Atwater’s inspector general, Bondi announced that, while she supported the dismissals, the investigation was to focus on the lack of documentation surrounding the forced firings.
In the meantime, as Florida remains at the center of the foreclosure crisis, both Sobel and Soto noted in their letter to Atwater their discomfort with the lack of any timeline for the completion of his office’s examination.
“As we are now well into the second month of this assignment, please advise when you expect the investigation to be completed and the findings of Mr. Luczynski’s probe to be made public,” they wrote.
Full letter and copy of release below…