Secretary Brunner: Please tell President Obama NOT to sign the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act
On Monday, September 27, 2010, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), on the Senate floor, asked that the Judiciary Committee be discharged from further consideration of a bill that would hurt consumers.
H.R. 3808 requires federal and state courts to recognize notarized documents from other states, including ones that contain electronic notarizations that are not subject to the same consumer safeguards of documents notarized in person. Some financial institutions are using electronic notarizations to process home foreclosure documents.
Sen. Casey asked that the Senate move forward with immediate consideration of the bill with unanimous consent that the bill pass with no other action or debate. The Senate passed the bill without amendment by unanimous consent. It now sits on the President’s desk. I’m asking you to email or call the President at 202-456-1111 to ask him not to sign the bill.
H.R. 3808 is known as the “Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act.” It passed the House under a suspension of the rules in April 2010. It requires federal and state courts to recognize any notarization that is lawful in the state where the notary is licensed. Now, in one day, it passed in the Senate.
When I learned of it last Thursday, it sounded innocuous to me, but then I started looking at the timing of the bill. GMAC, owned by Ally, had just suspended its foreclosure actions in 23 states, including Ohio. I had already referred Chase Home Finance, LLC, on August 23, 2010, to the U.S. Department of Justice, asking it to review and investigate Chase’s document notarization practices in home foreclosures (18,000 documents per month were being notarized by 8 people, along with other irregularities). I license notaries in the State of Ohio. Even though I don’t have the power under state law to investigate or prosecute, I couldn’t stand idly by without acting. That’s why I’m asking you to email or call the President at 202-456-1111 to ask him not to sign the bill.
Last Wednesday, the day before I announced the DOJ referral, JPMorgan Chase announced it was having third party counsel review its document procedures for foreclosures. Just two days before, the U.S. Senate had rushed through H.R. 3808. Something didn’t seem right. Since then others agree with me.
Notarizing a document requires the signer to make a fundamental statement, an acknowledgment, before a notary public. It is used for documents of great sensitivity or value, like when the title of a car is transferred on its sale or when a bank tells a court how much is owed on a note for a mortgage when it wants to foreclose.
Some states have adopted “electronic notarization” laws that ignore the requirement of a signer’s personal appearance before a notary. A notary’s signature is that of a trusted, impartial third party, whose notarization bolsters the integrity of the document. Many of these policies for electronic notarization are driven by technology rather than by principle, and they are dangerous to consumers.
President Obama was presented with HR. 3808 on Thursday, September 30, 2010. As of today, he has not signed the bill. Please join me in urging him not to sign the bill by sending an email or calling the White House at 202-456-1111.
Mortgages are now being used as backing for securities traded all over the world by financial institutions. When a mortgage goes into default, a “chain of title” (list of its owners) must be created. It’s being discovered that many financial institutions have taken shortcuts in creating lawful chains of title that allow them to foreclose and take homes when they would not otherwise have the right under the law.
Banks demand we follow every letter of their contracts. We must demand they follow the law. It’s that simple. Please join me in urging President Obama not to sign the bill by sending an email or calling 202-456-1111.
Thanks for working together,
Ohio Secretary of State
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