Fla. AG, mortgage firm's relationship called into question

Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 5, 2011, 9:54am


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) -- Another Florida lawmaker is joining the call for an investigation into Attorney General Pam Bondi office's decision to fire two assistant attorneys general.

According to the Miami Herald, state Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, filed a public records request with Bondi's office on Thursday.

Sobel wants more information on the relationship between the Attorney General's Office and Jacksonville firm Lender Processing Services (LPS).

LPS is currently under investigation by the state for its foreclosure practices, according to the newspaper.

The Herald reported that Joe Jacquot, a former special counsel with the Attorney General's Office, left his post and in May joined LPS as its senior vice president.

Two weeks later, in June, the two assistant attorneys general, Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson, were let go.

Sobel said she is troubled by the relationship between the firm and the Attorney General's Office.

Bondi's office has said Edwards and Clarkson, who led foreclosure fraud investigations under former Attorney General Bill McCollum, were ousted for "poor performance."

According to the Herald, Sobel is conducting her investigation along with state Rep. Darren M. Soto.

Last week, Soto filed his own public records request with the Attorney General's Office, seeking more information about the firings.

He pointed out that public records indicate that the terminations occurred while the two were in the midst of successful mortgage fraud litigation and "in spite of prior successful reviews."

"As a member who represents an area ravaged by foreclosure fraud, these terminations present an overwhelming public concern," he wrote in a letter to Bondi.

Soto, a Democrat, represents Orange and Osceola counties.

Under the state's Public Records Act, he has requested that Bondi's office provide him with "any and all records related to job performance" of Edwards and Clarkson within the past three years.

Also as part of his request, he has asked that Bondi's office provide a list of all case numbers for all currently active cases managed by Edwards and Clarkson and the amounts of any settlements, along with their case numbers, occurring within the past three years in cases managed by the two.

Bondi, herself, said earlier this week that she would seek an independent review of her office's decision to fire the two investigators.

The attorney general said the decision to fire Edwards and Clarkson was made by three top administrators in her office.

"This decision was made on job performance, not politics, by three members of my top staff," she said.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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