Report: Firing of Fla. assistant AGs prompted by performance, not politics

John O'Brien Jan. 9, 2012, 10:30am


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi did nothing wrong when she fired two assistant attorneys general who led foreclosure fraud investigations under her predecessor.

Friday, the state's chief financial officer released a report that said June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards were fired because of their performance, according to a report by the Orlando Sentinel. Outcry from the firings prompted Bondi to call for an independent review of them in August.

"A review of the circumstances surround the termination of Edwards and Clarkson, along with information gathered during this inquiry, did not warrant initiating a formal investigation into a potential violation of law, rule or policy," CFO Jeff Atwater's report said, according to the Sentinel.

"During the course of the inquiry there was no specific allegation of wrongdoing made by any person, and no discovery of evidence of wrongdoing on the part of anyone involved in the matter."

State Rep. Darren Soto, a Democrat from Orange and Osceola counties, was one of two lawmakers to call for an investigation. He sought more information about the firings and claimed the two were let go in the midst of successful mortgage fraud litigation.

He told the Sentinel that the report focused on "minutiae in order to avoid making a call on the big picture."

The two were fired two weeks after Joe Jacquot left his job as special counsel with the AG's office to become senior vice president of Lender Processing Services. Edwards and Clarkson were involved in the investigation of LPS.

Soto and Sen. Eleanor Sobel even introduced legislation that would prohibit an employee of the AG's office from working for an organization under investigation until two years after it concluded.

Bondi's office said Clarkson and Edward publicly vilified the company in a presentation on foreclosure practices and angered Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan by leaking her draft subpoena, the Sentinel report said.

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