Iowa AG feels backlash for Schneiderman's removal

Jessica M. Karmasek Aug. 25, 2011, 12:53pm


SALEM, Mass. (Legal Newsline) -- John L. O'Brien, register of deeds for Southern Essex County in Massachusetts, says it is "a travesty of justice" to have New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman removed from an executive committee negotiating a nationwide foreclosure settlement.

Schneiderman was removed from the committee on Tuesday.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who is leading the committee, said the New York attorney general has "actively worked to undermine" its effort.

State attorneys general, the U.S. Justice Department, Treasury Department and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are in the midst of negotiating a deal with the five mortgage servicers -- Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial Inc.

Miller, in a statement, pointed to Schneiderman's refusal to join a negotiation committee in June.

"Since that time, New York has actively worked to undermine the very same multistate group that it had spent the previous nine months working very closely with," the Iowa attorney general said.

"While we certainly respect the right of any state to choose to no longer participate in a multistate and to pursue another path, working to actively undermine a multistate while still a member of the executive committee simply doesn't make sense, is unprecedented and is unacceptable."

Schneiderman, like a handful of other state attorneys general, is currently doing his own comprehensive investigation into the mortgage industry.

O'Brien expressed his outrage at Schneiderman's removal, saying he has been "one of the few voices for Main Street, not Wall Street" during the negotiations.

"It is a travesty of justice to have him removed when he is speaking on behalf of the American homeowners. We need more Eric Schneidermans fighting the fight," O'Brien said in a statement Wednesday.

Now, O'Brien is calling for Miller to remove himself from the committee.

"Miller has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the very bankers and their associates that he purports to regulate. It seems to me that he has become the voice of Wall Street and he has abandoned Main Street," the Massachusetts register said.

"If property rights mean anything in this country, the attorneys general will cease all talks with these banks immediately, and I am urging the American people to contact their attorney general and ask them to do just that."

Miller also is feeling the backlash from his home state.

The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, which describes itself as a "membership-based grassroots organization," said it was shocked to hear that Miller had kicked Schneiderman off the executive committee.

"Schneiderman has been leading the push among all the state's attorneys general for the strongest settlement possible. He has steadfastly refused to grant the big banks immunity for the damage they caused and it appears he was punished for his tough stand," the group said in a statement.

"His dismissal means that the loudest voice at the table calling for real reform is gone."

Now the group wants to know which side is Miller really on -- the people's or the banks'?

"This news is a huge blow to those of us who expected great things from this investigation -- from our attorney general -- and we need Miller to reverse course immediately," the group said.

"This investigation is hugely important as it is the only investigation into big banks practices since they caused the economic crash in 2007 that still devastates millions of hard working families.

"It's too important to let Miller cave to the big banks."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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