After allegations of sexual abuse by four women that appeared in an article in The New Yorker, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned Monday night. The article by Jane Mayer and Pulitzer Prize winner Ronan Farrow reported that he allegedly choked, slapped, and beat them and during sex, then threatened them to remain …
Tag: Eric Schneiderman
May 08 2018
NY AG Schneiderman Resigns
Aug 31 2017
The Russian Connection: Teaming Up
Last night Politico reported Special Counsel Robert Mueller has teamed up with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on the case of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Part of the reason for the duel investigation is the possibility that Trump will pardon Manafort and others of federal charges involving the Trump campaign’s conspiring …
Aug 12 2013
Mortgage Fraud Settlement: Is a Fraud
As we have documented here at Stars Hollow, the task force that was created to pursue mortgage fraud and hold the banks accountable was, and is, a sham game to protect the banks from real relief for defrauded homeowners.
Your mortgage documents are fake!
by David Dayen, Salon
Prepare to be outraged. Newly obtained filings from this Florida woman’s lawsuit uncover a horrifying scheme
A newly unsealed lawsuit, which banks settled in 2012 for $1 billion, actually offers a different reason, providing a key answer to one of the persistent riddles of the financial crisis and its aftermath. The lawsuit states that banks resorted to fake documents because they could not legally establish true ownership of the loans when trying to foreclose.
This reality, which banks did not contest but instead settled out of court, means that tens of millions of mortgages in America still lack a legitimate chain of ownership, with implications far into the future. And if Congress, supported by the Obama Administration, goes back to the same housing finance system, with the same corrupt private entities who broke the nation’s private property system back in business packaging mortgages, then shame on all of us. [..]
Most of official Washington, including President Obama, wants to wind down mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and return to a system where private lenders create securitization trusts, packaging pools of loans and selling them to investors. Government would provide a limited guarantee to investors against catastrophic losses, but the private banks would make the securities, to generate more capital for home loans and expand homeownership.
That’s despite the evidence we now have that, the last time banks tried this, they ignored the law, failed to convey the mortgages and notes to the trusts, and ripped off investors trying to cover their tracks, to say nothing of how they violated the due process rights of homeowners and stole their homes with fake documents.
The very same banks that created this criminal enterprise and legal quagmire would be in control again. Why should we view this in any way as a sound public policy, instead of a ticking time bomb that could once again throw the private property system, a bulwark of capitalism and indeed civilization itself, into utter disarray? As Lynn Szymoniak puts it, “The President’s calling for private equity to return. Why would we return to this?”
White-collar fraud expert proves ‘mortgage-backed securities’ neither mortgage-backed nor secure
by Scott Kaufmann, The Raw Story
The forged documents were endorsed by employees of companies long bankrupt, executives who signed their name eight different ways, or “people” named “Bogus Assignee for Intervening Assignments” so that the banks could establish standing to foreclose in courts. The end result, according to white-collar fraud expert Lynn Szymoniak, is that over $1.4 trillion in mortgage-backed securities are still, to this day, based on fraudulent mortgage assignments.
The lawsuit against Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citi and GMAC/Ally Bank was settled in early 2012 for $1 billion, but now that the evidence is unsealed, Szymoniak and her legal team are free to pursue the other named defendants, including HSBC, the Bank of New York Mellon, and US Bank. “I’m really glad I was part of collecting this money for the government, and I’m looking forward to going through discovery and collecting the rest of it,” Szymoniak told Salon.
Eric Holder Owes the American People an Apology
Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg News
The Justice Department made a long-overdue disclosure late Friday: Last year when U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder boasted about the successes that a high-profile task force racked up pursuing mortgage fraud, the numbers he trumpeted were grossly overstated. [..]
In an updated press release Friday, which corrected its initial release of last October, the Justice Department said a review of the cases found that the inflated figures included defendants who had been sentenced or convicted in fiscal year 2012 — not just people who had been criminally charged, as originally reported. Its original, lofty tally also included cases in which the victims weren’t distressed homeowners. [..]
What a charade. No wonder the government found it so difficult to bring a meaningful number of accounting-fraud cases against bank executives after the financial crisis. Its own books were cooked. [..]
This was the second time, mind you, that Holder’s Justice Department had pulled a stunt like this. In December 2010, Holder held a press conference to tout a supposed sweep by the president’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force called “Operation Broken Trust.” (The mortgage-fraud program was part of the same task force.) As with the mortgage-fraud initiative, Broken Trust wasn’t actually a sweep. All the Justice Department did was lump together a bunch of small-fry, penny-ante fraud cases that had nothing to do with one another. Then it held a press gathering.
Between this sham that protects the banks and the egregious violations of the press and privacy of all Americans with abusive use of FISA, Eric Holder owes us more than an apology, he owes us his resignation as Attorney General.
May 07 2013
Mortgage Fraud Settlement: “Buyer’s Regret”
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he plans to sue Wells Fargo and Bank of America over claims that they breached the terms of a multibillion-dollar settlement intended to end foreclosure abuses.
Under the terms of the settlement, banks have to abide by 304 servicing standards, like notifying homeowners of missing documents within five days of receiving a loan modification and providing borrowers with a single point of contact.
“Wells Fargo and Bank of America have flagrantly violated those obligations, putting hundreds of homeowners across New York at greater risk of foreclosure,” Mr. Schneiderman said. Since October 2012, Mr. Schneiderman’s office has documented 210 separate violations involving Wells Fargo and 129 involving Bank of America.
Shahien Nasiripour reports at Huffington Post that it’s unclear if Mr. Schneiderman can do this:
The agreement does not specify whether he can independently pursue legal action against the banks without first allowing the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight, run by (Joseph) Smith, to determine whether they are complying, a process that could take months.
Smith’s office will make public by June 30 its first required report on the banks’ compliance with the mortgage servicing standards. The deal dictates that the companies shall have an opportunity to correct potential violations once they are identified. If the same violations continue, the monitoring committee could launch lawsuits and levy penalties totaling as much as $5 million for each violation.
But as attorney and writer Abigail Field notes at naked capitalism, it would seem that AG Schneiderman has a case of buyer’s remorse and examines why this lawsuit is a lashing with a wet noodle:
Now that that A.G. Schneiderman’s learned that Bank of America and Wells Fargo have failed to service 339 New Yorkers according to the standards dictated by the Settlement, he’s served notice he intends to sue. Not for money; for “equitable relief.” Though I’ve not seen a filing, I imagine if he actually will seek an injunction to get Wells and BofA to start complying with (specific performance of) the four servicing standards Schneiderman is targeting in his press release: [..]
The Bottom Line
It’s really hard to see how this effort-even if A.G. Schneiderman triumphs-leads to the kind of systemic change that was possible when all of the liability for the banks’ bad acts was still on the table. You know, pre-settlement, when A.G. Schneiderman and a few other Democratic A.G.s looked like they were going to stand up for America and insist on a meaningful deal.
Consider, the most that can come of this is two of the five banks complying completely with four of the 304 Servicing Standards.
AG Schneiderman joined MSNBC”S All In host Chris Hayes for an exclusive interview about why, after a multibillion dollar settlement, banks are still not living up to rules about mortgages and refinancing.
Feb 13 2013
SOTU: One Year Ago (Up Date)
Last night President Barack Obama gave the annual State of the Union address before the nation and a joint session of Congress. He made a lofty speech outlining his plan for the nation over the next year, most of which are highly unlikely to come to fruition due to the intransigence of the Republican held House. Will any of this be remembered in a month? Or, for that matter, next year? Does anyone remember the promises and goals from last year’s SOTU? I doubt anyone remembers this:
EXCLUSIVE: Obama To Announce Mortgage Crisis Unit Chaired By New York Attorney General Schneiderman
by Sam Stein, The Huffington Post
WASHINGTON — During his State of the Union address tonight, President Obama will announce the creation of a special unit to investigate misconduct and illegalities that contributed to both the financial collapse and the mortgage crisis.
The office, part of a new Unit on Mortgage Origination and Securitization Abuses, will be chaired by Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, according to a White House official.
Schneiderman is an increasingly beloved figure among progressives for his criticism of a proposed settlement between the 50 state attorneys general and the five largest banks. His presence atop this new special unit could give it immediate legitimacy among those who have criticized the president for being too hesitant in going after the banks and resolving the mortgage crisis. He will be in attendance at Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.
Ahh! Now, you remember that. Whatever happened to the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group? Apparently not much.
Obama’s Mortgage Crisis Working Group Falls Short Of Billing
by Sam stein and Ryan Grim, The Huffington Post
A year later, progressives said they consider the panel a disappointment and, possibly, a diversion to placate Schneiderman and homeowner advocates. The Justice Department said it doesn’t know what the fuss is about.
“You described it as a unit that was announced to great fanfare,” said Tony West, the number three man in the Justice Department, in an interview. “A lot of people have the misimpression that this is some type of prosecutorial department that was set up. What the working group is is exactly that. It is part of the financial fraud enforcement task force. It doesn’t stand alone.” [..]
Schneiderman’s working group, critics said, has not lived up to that billing. [..]
According to those involved in putting together cases, officials at the SEC were naturally disposed to striking quick settlements rather than carrying out long-term investigations. The Justice Department, meanwhile, was worried about shaking a recovering housing market and fragile banks.
(Mike) Lux, in particular, pointed an accusatory finger at working group co-chairman Lanny Breuer, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, who has said he will leave his post next month. [..]
Whether driven by Breuer’s presence or not, the working group suffered from what the high-level source called “leaked leverage.” With different actors wanting slightly different outcomes, it closed cases that may have potentially been made bigger. Among those cited include one last month, when the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve reached a $8.5 settlement with 10 U.S. banks on charges of foreclosure abuses.
Stein and Grim state that ‘progressives interviewed for this story who know and like Schneiderman offered the same conclusion: He got played.” Former blogger for FDL, David Dayen disagrees:
This is a joke. Schneiderman wasn’t “played” and anyone who says that is covering for him. huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/12/oba…
— David Dayen (@ddayen) February 12, 2013
I agree with David, Mr. Schneiderman’s settlement with banks here in New York have been disappointing, to say the least. He is not some naive neophyte. He knew precisely what he was signing up for when he was offered the position with this group.
Up Date: 18:12 EST 2.13.13: From David Dayen at Salon:
The secret truth: There never was a “task force” dedicated to ferreting out mortgage fraud
This is the key point. There are no offices, no phones and no staff dedicated to the non-task force. Two of the five co-chairs have left government. What “investigators” there are from the task force are nothing more than liaisons to the independent agencies doing their own independent investigations. In the rare event that these agencies file an actual lawsuit or enforcement action, the un-task force merely puts out a statement taking credit for it. Take a look at this in action at the website for the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, the federal umbrella group “investigating” financial fraud. It’s little more than a press release factory, and no indictment, conviction or settlement is too small. The site takes credit for cracking down on Ponzi schemes, insider trading, tax evasion, racketeering, violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act (!) and a host of other crimes that have precisely nothing to do with the financial crisis. To call this a publicity stunt is an insult to publicity stunts. [..]
Maybe these groups who claim to be interested in accountability should have recognized the value of what pressured the White House to set up the diversionary tactic of a task force in the first place: public shaming. Last month’s Frontline documentary “The Untouchables” has had arguably more of an impact on reviving moribund financial fraud cases than anything else. Within a couple of weeks of its premiere, the head of the criminal enforcement division, Lanny Breuer, announced he would step down. Then, DoJ suddenly decided to sue credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s over its conflict of interest in rating clearly fraudulent securities as safe assets, a case it had been investigating for two years. You can view this as an accident of timing; it seems more like a direct response. Shaming has done far more than a pretend task force, though that’s admittedly a low bar. You would think outside pressure groups would have recognized the virtue of outside pressure instead of trying to play an inside game.
Oct 03 2012
Don’t Expect Perp Walks
There will be no perp walks, or got that matter even arrests, in the civil suit against JP Morgan Chase for flawed mortgage-backed securities issued by Bear Stearns that was filed late Sunday night by Eric Schneiderman, New York State’s Attorney General. It’s the first lawsuit filed by Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group that was formed in January following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.
The complaint contends that Bear Stearns and its lending unit, EMC Mortgage, defrauded investors who purchased mortgage securities packaged by the companies from 2005 through 2007.
The firms made material misrepresentations about the quality of the loans in the securities, the lawsuit said, and ignored evidence of broad defects among the loans that they pooled and sold to investors.
Moreover, when Bear Stearns identified problematic loans that it had agreed to purchase from a lender, it was required to make the originator buy them back. But Bear Stearns demanded cash payments from the lenders and kept the money, rather than passing it on to investors, the suit contends.
Unlike many of the other mortgage crisis cases brought by regulators such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the task force’s action does not focus on a particular deal that harmed investors or an individual who was central to a specific transaction. Rather, the suit contends that the improper practices were institutionwide and affected numerous deals during the period.
The lawsuit, however, is not Federal and relies on NY state banking law:
The decision to pursue civil charges under New York’s Martin Act means that the state’s attorney general will not have to prove fraudulent intent, only that the firm was negligent in making any false or misleading disclosures. While easier to prove, that also indicates that the evidence to prove fraud was not strong enough to bring more serious charges.
Like so many cases related to the financial crisis, no individuals are named in the complaint. Nor does it appear that any criminal charges will emerge this long after Bear Stearns was pushed into the arms of JPMorgan by the federal government in a transaction routinely described as a fire sale.
Yves Smith is skeptical about any large fines:
It looks like Eric Schneiderman is living up to his track record as an “all hat, no cattle” prosecutor. Readers may recall that he filed a lawsuit against the mortgage registry MERS just on the heels of Obama’s announcement that he was forming a mortgage fraud task force. Schneiderman’s joining forces with the Administration killed the attorney general opposition to the settlement, allowing the Administration to put that heinous deal over the finish line. The MERS filing was a useful balm for Schneiderman’s reputation, since it preserved his “tough guy” image, at least for the moment, and allowed his backers to contend that he had outplayed the Administration. [..]
Schneiderman has churned out another lawsuit that the Obama boosters and those unfamiliar with this beat might mistakenly see as impressive. It’s a civil, not criminal suit against JP Morgan he conduct of Bear Stearns in originating and misrepresenting $87 billion of mortgage backed securities (the link takes you to the court filing). And also notice no individuals are being sued. Being a banker apparently means never having to be responsible for your actions.
This suit appears just in time for an “October Surprise” and right before the first debate that will focus on domestic policies. This looks like more campaign PR.
Aug 02 2012
A 2012 Victory Won’t Bring Back the Economy: Only a Private Debt Jubilee
Cross posted in Orange and at Voices on the Square
Yes, this is true. It’s not a popular saying, but I’m not here to make everyone feel good for 2012 electioneering while people are suffering to feel a sense of belonging among the Washington elite prognosticating over poll numbers instead of real issues. As we have this debate over 4 percentage points in the tax code, the overall omission of most Americans suffering from the fallout of the housing bubble is insulting.
That’s right. This debate ignores the big elephant in the room; the millions of people underwater defrauded into mortgage debt and other private debt chaining them to their deflating assets with no sufficient income prospects added up and compounded in a usurious fashion sucking demand out of the economy. For those that do not “got theirs jack” and can’t afford cable news to cheer along with this partisan war syndrome dynamic, this actually matters.
It matters because as I have chronicled here, here, here, and here, the Foreclosure Fraud Settlement was an insult to the millions injured from the fallout of this bubble once NY AG was bought off to prop it up with stilts. Banks were given credit for the HAMP mods in addition to being propped up by the other failed HARP program. Basically those that defended that settlement or any of these programs anymore have to admit now they knew nothing.
For want or need of a nice election tune, many are tuning in to this election while too many are tuning out these debilitating economic problems because the absolute failure to deal with them at all. I partially understand, it is daunting and demoralizing, but whether one wants to tune in to these problems or not, the song remains the same.
It’s the song of the decade and it goes well beyond this election.
Jul 13 2012
The Fraud of the Financial Fraud Task Force
Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force is the umbrella group for the RMBS (Residential Mortgage-Backed Security) Task Force. Remember that task force that was so gleefully announced by President Obama in his State of the Union address in January, appointing New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to participate? Yeah, that one. It’s been under the radar for the most part and as yet has inadequate staff no office space or even a phone number.
The gang at FireDogLake has been relentless in tracking down what he FFETF and the RMBS have and haven’t done. My FDL contributor massacio has been a wizard at uncovering new releases that claim the groups are making progress when in reality the Obama DOJ is refusing to go after the big fish:
Like every one else who is following the refusal of the Obama Administration and its cowardly prosecutors to investigate Wall Street for crimes in the run-up to the Great Crash, I figured this was just a name given to a collection of prosecutors around the country who were already working on fraud cases.
The official website of the FFETF confirms this. [..]
I’ve gone back through February looking at the press releases, and this is a fair sample of the work of the FFETF. There is not a single case related to fraud in the creation, sale or operation of real estate mortgage-backed securities, the frauds that led to the Great Crash. The FFETF is a random collection of people working on cases that can be tied to financial fraud.
The FFETF and its 20 subpoenas and its 50 or more personnel and whatever else we hear from them are a sham. Wall Street has nothing to fear from the FFETF and its co-chair, Eric Schneiderman.
Richard (RJ) Eskow points out that Wall St. has nothing to fear from these task forces or for that matter from Attorney General Eric Holder:
Confidential sources say that the President’s much-touted Mortgage Fraud Task Force is being starved for vital resources by the Holder Justice Department. Political insiders are fearful that this obstruction will threaten Democrats’ chances at the polls. Investigators and prosecutors from other agencies are expressing their frustration as the ever-rowing list of documented crimes by individual Wall Street bankers continues to be ignored. [..]
A growing number of people are privately expressing concern at the Justice Department’s long-standing pattern of inactivity, obfuscation, and obstruction. Mr. Holder’s past as a highly-paid lawyer for a top Wall Street firm, Covington and Burling, is being discussed more openly among insiders. Covington & Burling was the law firm which devised the MERS shell corporation which has since been implicated in many cases of mortgage and foreclosure fraud. [..]
But there’s no evidence that Mr. Holder’s Justice Department has mounted a serious effort to investigate bank crime. Its first, much-touted “coordinated effort” to crack down on mortgage fraud turned out to be a PR trick, not a law enforcement effort, which the Columbia Journalism Review described with the headline, “The Obama Administration’s Financial-Fraud Stunt Backfires.” That’s not the kind of press a President wants to see repeated in an election year.
“Democrats have been having good luck painting Romney as the candidate of the one percent,” said one observer. “But that could change quickly with a few bad headlines.”
While nobody we spoke with was willing to raise the subject of a Holder resignation, they did insist that time was running out for the Attorney General to show concrete results.
Without criminal investigations and indictments, bankers will continue to commit crimes. The LIBOR scandal, which implicates a number of leading banks, proves that. The Justice Department’s inaction is putting the world economy at risk by allowing bankers to continue their reckless and illegal behavior.
The clock is ticking on many of these case since there is a five year statute of limitations under federal law for civil charges. There is now mounting evidence that Obama administration is letting that statute of limitations expire on the criminal charges, too. David Dayen at FDL News reports that he spoke with Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), a member of the House Financial Services Committee, concerning the Justice Department stonewalling prosecutions of securitization abuses. He asked Miller about the coalition of housing advocates charging the Justice Department with stonewalling the investigation and denying it critical resources:
Miller, who at one point was a potential choice to be the executive director of the working group, said that he had not personally spoken with anyone involved in the task force since he missed out on the position in late February/early March. But as an interested observer, he made a few points. “It does appear that the task force is really not doing anything that the various agencies weren’t doing already,” Miller said. “They’re just saying they are doing it as part of this task force.”
And Miller added something else, that members of the various agencies associated with the working group have acknowledged this in conversations with members of Congress. Miller cautioned that he hadn’t heard this from agency officials personally, but that other members have. [..]
Miller also noted that the statutes of limitations, at least on criminal fraud claims, have almost certainly run out. “I said a few weeks ago that the clock on the statute of limitations was ticking like Marisa Tomei’s biological clock in My Cousin Vinny,” Miller said. “If there have not been extensions worked out in private negotiations, and if the law is that the statute runs from occurrence rather than discovery, it’s probably the case that most statutes have expired.”
And unless we forget our erstwhile Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, maybe up to his ears in the multi-trillion dollar LIBOR fraud:
The flames of the Libor scandal have been creeping up under the feet of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Evidence showed that the New York Fed found out about the rate-rigging from Barclays and other banks in 2007, when Geithner was still the bank President. This appeared to display regulatory impotence in the face of massive fraud. Geithner had to respond. And he did with a classic version of CYA. [..]
Geithner passed the documents around to anyone who wanted them last night. If there can be something less than the bare minimum, a two-page document to the Bank of England – not the banks implicated in the rate-rigging over which the NY Fed has control, but some other regulator – would be it. He didn’t speak out publicly, he didn’t use his regulatory power over the banks he had authority and in defense of the stateside financial products calculated using the Libor benchmark rate, he just wrote a memo.
The memo says that the Bank of England should “eliminate the incentive to misreport” Libor on the part of the banks. So there’s no doubt in the minds of the regulators that there was misreporting going on.
Timmy’s excuse for doing nothing now is that he did nothing then
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will release on Friday documents showing it took “prompt action” four years ago to highlight problems with the benchmark interest rate known as Libor and to press for reform, an official at the regional U.S. central bank said on Wednesday.
As early as 2007, the New York Fed may have discussed problems with the setting of the London Interbank Offered Rate with Barclays Plc, the British bank currently at the center of the Libor scandal and investigation
Well, Timmy did send a memo.
Jun 12 2012
NN12: Schneiderman Keynote A Snoozer
Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
The much anticipated keynote address on the opening night at Netroots Nation 12 in Providence, RI was, I dare say, over two hours of my life I will never get back. While I understand the need for levity, thus the comedic interludes by emcee Baratunde Thurston, the number of speakers was just too many and they were unfortunately long winded, even for politicians. I wasn’t alone in that assessment. After nearly two hours Schneiderman had not reach the stage, so I decided to “stretch my legs” before I embarrassed my self by dozing off and falling out of my seat, although, it might have more entertaining for some than Mr. Thurston. I wasn’t alone. In the lobby outside the ballroom, I ran into an Obama supporter who found that she and I had something in common, this was booooooooring. I missed the New York Attorney General’s address and opted for the hotel restaurant for some food and libation. So here is the entire opening keynote with Schneiderman coming in at the last fifteen minutes.
Here is more agreement about the anesthesia effects of the evening from FDL blogger masachio
Schneiderman chose the pander speech. He started by explaining that real change comes from the grassroots, leaders emerge from struggles over real problems. That’s us, the Netroots! We are the leaders of the future!
He continues: We are in a transitional era now, just like the early 30s. We democrats stand for the rule of law applicable to everyone equally just like President Obama. Someone from the audience suggests loudly that locking up banksters would be a good start, and Schneiderman says he’ll get to that. Which he does a few minutes later saying that he can’t comment on the investigation he is doing. Everyone is really nice about this bit of foolery, and it was at this point I realized I would prefer to be drinking. I mutter at my tablemates that banksters and pot smokers do not face the same application of the rule of law, but no one hears me because they are stunned into dopiness.
The somnolence continues. [..]
After the speech, Schneiderman told a Talking Points Memo reporter that “nothing was off the table.” So if that’s true, when do the prosecutions start? Oh, wait, the “special unit” still has no office or telephone number after six months.
May 11 2012
Is It Time For Schneiderman To Walk Away From The Task Force?
It may be past time for New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to walk away from Residential Mortage Backed Securities working group (RMBS) and point it out for the sham that it is. It’s just not working and perhaps never was intended to “work”, from Anna Cuevas at Huffington Post:
Not only have they not done anything, they also have no dedicated website, address, or telephone number. Under the arm of the Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the Group planned to have 30 employees within the first few weeks — however, as of this date, the only names associated with the Group are the co-chairs: Lanny Breuer, Stuart Delery, Robert Khuzami, John Walsh, and Eric Schneiderman. While the president deemed that this group would “speed assistance” to homeowners, that assistance has thus far been exceedingly slow or non-existent. [..]
Questions remain and need to be answered. The Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group is the sixth group formed by the administration to address the foreclosure crisis and provide relief to homeowners. Unfortunately, this group, like the others, is not seeing the urgency of the matter — that is, if they do, in fact, exist and are something more than a public relations announcement. As it appears, the new Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group is not working — they don’t even have a place to work from.
Schneiderman tried to put a positive spin on this circle jerk but it’s not easing the growing skepticism. From David Dayen at FDL News Desk:
My point on this was always that the President’s appropriation request and $6 will get you a very expensive cup of coffee at my local Intelligentsia café (seriously, $6 for a cup of coffee?). Presidential budget requests are as ignored in Washington as pledges to not accept lobbyist money, or marital vows. The request didn’t mean anything, and the House Republicans currently putting together the budget were highly unlikely to honor it.
Sure enough, yesterday, the Justice, Science and Commerce appropriations bill, the proper venue for this additional $55 million request, came up for a vote. Maxine Waters tried to include the appropriation for the RMBS working group. And it failed pretty badly. [..]
there’s no chance that the working group gets anything close to this kind of money for at least 4 months, and in all likelihood not at all.
It’s just another example of how the protestations about the legitimacy of the working group fall apart when subjected to the slightest scrutiny.
At naked capitalism, Yves Smith was even more critical of the task force and Schneiderman’s “performance” on Up with Chris Hayes:
The point is that (Iowa AG Tom) Miller was a convenient stooge for the Administration. His job was to maintain the pretense that the effort he was leading was in the public’s interest and moving ahead at a good clip. These weren’t very easy lies to sell and Miller wasn’t very good at pedaling them, but that didn’t matter much. His job was to keep up a certain level of background noise.
But nothing was going to happen unless the Administration wanted it to happen, and for some reason, the powers that be decided in late 2011 that a mortgage settlement would be a useful election talking point. So they saddled up and pushed the foundering deal over the line.
Now that the Administration has traded up from the unknown Miller to the soi disant “Man the Banks Fear Most” Eric Schneiderman, we have the instructive spectacle of watching Schneiderman look more and more Miller-like with every passing day. Admittedly, Schneiderman is far more skilled at passing off Administration canards than Miller, and is also trusted by many progressives, so he can probably run on brand fumes for quite a while. [..]
Schneiderman may be able to get away with this longer than he should, particularly since the plan is likely to be to file a couple of headline-getting but not-seriously-threatening-to-the-banking-oligarchs cases in the weeks before the election. He seems not to have noticed how the Administration has been quick to cast aside its operatives when they are no longer of use to them. In case he has managed not to notice how he is being played, expect him to have a rude awakening by the election.
Read Yves entire article, it’s a scathingly realistic assessment of the Obama administration, the RMBS (could that abbreviation be more appropriate?) and Schneiderman. If Schneiderman doesn’t walk away from this joke, he will lose what little credibility he has left which, at this point, isn’t much.