Beware of Attorneys General Bearing Gifts, Foreclosure Crisis Edition I (Florida)

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Beware of Attorneys General Bearing Gifts, Foreclosure Crisis Edition I (Florida)

Beware of Attorneys General Bearing Gifts, Foreclosure Crisis Edition I (Florida)

Via: NAKED CAPITALISM

As much as state attorneys general could be an effective force in acting for consumers and investors against banks, the fact that an attorney general has saddled up does not necessarily mean the effort is serious. At a minimum, it might just be a gambit to garner some good PR without seriously inconveniencing the perps; at worse, the action might be a pure Trojan horse.

Consider the curious conduct of one Bill McCollum, the lame duck attorney general of Florida. It appears that McCollum has been going after the foot soldiers in the foreclosure chicanery business (although some of them, like David Stern, head of the biggest foreclosure mill in the state, have earned a tidy fortune). His recent actions have targeted firms offering dubious foreclosure advice, and more recently, the foreclosure mills as well as a firm that may be best known for its real estate related document fabrication activities, Lender Processing Services, through its DocX subsidiary.

Now starting with these actors isn’t a bad thing at all; in fact, prosecutors often target low level criminals with the hope of getting them to turn evidence on the kingpins. And there is good reason to think McCollum has no interest in asking tough questions that will inconvenience bigger fry.

McCollum Is falling in with the banking industry party line. He appears to regard not disrupting the foreclosure process, a top priority of the financiers, as a worthy goal. Gee, isn’t preserving the rule of law and making sure no one is abused or defrauded the sort of thing his office is tasked to defend, not the functioning of markets or the bottom lines of banks? From the Wall Street Journal (hat tip reader f247):

“They’re training a lot of new people, and apparently now they are comfortable with the legality of their foreclosure process,” Mr. McCollum said in an interview. “The primary purpose of these meetings is talking about not having this stuff held back. It’s very important for us to not have a backlog of foreclosures. We already have a backlog. We don’t want it to get worse.”…

Mr. McCollum, Florida’s attorney general, said most errors in the foreclosure process have been “procedural,” adding that his top priority is to resolve the mess in a way that allows foreclosures to resume quickly….

The talks also centered on how to quickly get the foreclosure process moving again, according to the Florida attorney general’s office. Mr. McCollum described the meeting as more cooperative than combative.

Let’s look at the timeline:

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