SENATOR ELEANOR SOBEL, REP. DARREN SOTO PROBE DEEPER INTO FIRINGS OF ASSISTANT ATTORNEYS GENERAL

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SENATOR ELEANOR SOBEL, REP. DARREN SOTO PROBE DEEPER INTO FIRINGS OF ASSISTANT ATTORNEYS GENERAL

SENATOR ELEANOR SOBEL, REP. DARREN SOTO PROBE DEEPER INTO FIRINGS OF ASSISTANT ATTORNEYS GENERAL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: MICHELLE DeMARCO
850.487.5833

AUGUST 4, 2011

SENATOR ELEANOR SOBEL, REP. DARREN SOTO PROBE DEEPER INTO FIRINGS OF ASSISTANT ATTORNEYS GENERAL
Seek details under Florida’s public records laws of relationships between Tallahassee/mortgage service company under investigation

TALLAHASSEE – State Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood) and Representative Darren Soto (D-Orlando) on Thursday launched a probe of their own into the relationships surrounding the abrupt ouster of two top assistant attorneys general investigating widespread mortgage fraud throughout Florida.

“A number of troubling questions have come to our attention involving past and current employees of the Attorney General’s office and at least one mortgage processing company currently under investigation,” the duo wrote to Attorney General Pam Bondi in a formal public records request. “In particular, we are especially concerned with the sudden departure to Lender Processing Services of your former special counsel, Joe Jacquot, and the subsequent dismissal of two apparently top notch foreclosure fraud attorneys – June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards – from the Department of Legal Affairs.”

The circumstances surrounding Jacquot’s abrupt decision to leave the attorney general’s office sparked the lawmakers’ interest after it was learned that he had been hired in May as a senior vice president for Lender Processing Services, a company which had been under investigation for its role in questionable foreclosures throughout Florida. Jacquot had been named earlier this year as Bondi’s “special counsel.” Within approximately one week after his hiring by the company, assistant attorneys general Clarkson and Edwards were told of their dismissal and that the firings of the investigators “came from the top.” Both Clarkson and Edwards had been at the forefront of uncovering shady practices involving so-called “foreclosure mills” and were leading the probe into Lenders Processing Services.

But Jacquot is not the only connection the company shares with Tallahassee. Yet another Lender Processing Services senior vice president previously worked as general counsel and outside general counsel for the governor’s former health care company, Solantic.

The public records request seeks information specifically related to all communications, including Blackberry transmissions such as PINs and text messages involving top attorneys within the Attorney General’s office and the company, including documents relating to an “introductory meeting” held in March. It also seeks additional details on Provest, a Tampa-based mortgage servicing company also investigated by Edwards and Clarkson.

“Given the powerful ties, the high stakes, and the thousands of Florida homeowners on the line, many of whom I represent, the dismissal of June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards, and the ties between Tallahassee and these companies are critical,” said Senator Sobel. “The troubling questions surrounding these firings not only beg closer scrutiny, but deserve substantiated answers.”

“This supplemental information request is a sincere attempt to help determine what happened in regards to these dismissals,” added Rep. Soto. “The public deserves a thorough explanation.”

The move by Senator Sobel and Rep. Soto follows their request this week to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the firings. Last month, Rep. Soto also sought under Florida’s public records laws documentation substantiating claims by Bondi’s office that both Edwards and Clarkson were terminated due to “poor performance.”

A copy of the latest Sobel/Soto public records request is attached.

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