Negron: less government interference in foreclosuresby Dara Kam | January 11th, 2011
Sen. Joe Negron jumped on some of Attorney General Pam Bondi’s staff during a presentation on investigations into the state’s foreclosure crisis at today’s Banking and Insurance Committee meeting.
Attorney General Pam Bondi is continuing an investigation launched last year by predecessor Bill McCollum that thus far has found that the foreclosure process in Florida is in total disarray.
But Negron objected to some of the AG’s presentation and questioned whether the investigation is beyond the state’s top legal eagle’s scope of responsibility.
First, Negron didn’t like the term “foreclosure mills” referring to law firms that churn out the cases and are under investigation and being sued for racketeering and other allegations.
“It could also be called a very busy law firm because you provide very good service to your clients,” suggested Negron, R-Stuart, a lawyer with the West Palm Beach-based Gunster law firm.
He also didn’t like the finding by Scott Palmer, the head of the AG’s mortgage fraud investigation, that banks aren’t using loan modifications enough to avoid foreclosure.
“Where does…the government have the right to tell the bank what’s in your best interest?” he wanted to know.
It’s all part of the attorney general’s investigation into unfair and deceptive trade practices, Palmer replied.
Florida leads the nation in the percentage of homeowners who are delinquent on their mortgages, with nearly half of the homeowners underwater on their homes, according to the AG’s office.
The best way to deal with the problem is to get Florida’s economy back on track, according to committee Chairman Garrett Richter, a banker.
“We’ve got to put people back to work. That’s a slower solution but if we want a steadfast solution that’s the direction we need to go,” Richter, R-Naples, said.