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Bill McCollum Tries to Gloss Over Lack of Action on Mortgage Fraud with Election Year Workshop

For Immediate Release: May 8th, 2010
Bill McCollum Tries to Gloss Over Lack of Action on Mortgage Fraud with Election Year Workshop
Although Bill McCollum holds a “mortgage fraud forum” in Miami today, his election-year attention to the foreclosure and mortgage fraud crisis is too little, too late for millions of Florida homeowners.
Florida’s families have been dealing with the fall out of misleading loans and irresponsible lenders for years, while Attorney General McCollum has not paid attention to the issue.  Just two years ago McCollum admitted he didn’t think that the subprime mortgage crisis was a big deal, telling reporters he thought that the subprime collapse had been exaggerated by the media and investors and that “it’s not the end of the world.” 
And just last year, McCollum tried to excuse his poor record of going after mortgage fraud as Attorney General.  His flippant response to homeowners in trouble?  “You can’t do everything.”
“Bill McCollum is in Miami today for a mortgage fraud workshop, attempting to gloss over his inaction on the issue.  This effort is too little, too late from our Attorney General, who has not prioritized the foreclosure crisis and made excuses instead of cracking down on mortgage fraud,” said Eric Jotkoff, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party.  “Bill McCollum spent decades in Congress as a cheerleader for the disastrous policies that led to the economic meltdown that helped cause the housing crisis. Then, as Attorney General, McCollum failed to aggressively protect Florida’s homeowners. Bill McCollum has repeatedly shown that he would rather use his office for partisan stunts than for protecting the people of Florida.”
McCollum On Delayed Response To The Mortgage Fraud Crisis: “You Can’t Do Everything”:  Bill McCollum had not put out a press release regarding Florida’s mortgage fraud crisis until confronted by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s investigation into shady real estate deals.  In a release responding to the paper’s investigation McCollum said, “This mortgage fraud crisis is similar to a state of emergency — it will take an all-hands-on-deck approach between our state’s agencies to effectively address our citizens’ concerns.”  Asked separately why he did not do more on mortgage flipping fraud prior to March, McCollum said, “It’s not the only thing we do. You can’t do everything.” (Sarasota Herald Tribune, 7/25/07)
McCollum Didn’t Think The Subprime Crisis Was A Big Deal:  
The News-Press reported, “Attorney General Bill McCollum thinks the subprime collapse has been exaggerated by the media and investors. ‘It’s not the end of the world,’ he said.” (The News-Press, 11/15/07)
Subprime Lending Crisis At Heart Of Financial System Meltdown And Bailouts Setting Bad Precedent: In the wake of the bailout of AIG, the failure of Lehman Brothers, and the sale of Merrill Lynch, all of which had unsustainable exposure to subprime mortgages gone bad, Investors Business Daily said that “the immediate cause of the financial system’s ills today is falling home prices — and the ensuing subprime lending crisis.” The Daily further noted that, “Bailing out companies can help ease the pain today. But it can set the stage for a bigger crisis down the road as firms take bigger risks, expecting the government to rescue them every time… America’s moral hazard problem — bailing out companies that have made major mistakes and not letting market corrective take their course — has become a major problem.” (Investors Business Daily, 9/16/08)
McCollum Held Hearings On Subprime Lending – Then Did Nothing:  According to the St. Petersburg Times, McCollum, as vice chairman of the banking committee in May 2000, held daylong hearings into mortgage issues, including rising defaults rates and subprime lending practices. The St. Petersburg Times reported, “But hours of testimony resulted in little action. ‘It was very hard to convince anyone it was epidemic,’ said Cathy Lesser Mansfield, a Drake University law professor who testified before the committee.” (St. Petersburg Times, 5/24/09)

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