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Atwater IG clears Bondi of meddling in foreclosure lawyers’ forced resignations

Friday, January 6th, 2012 by Dara Kam

An inspector general late Friday cleared Attorney General Pam Bondi of wrongdoing in the forced resignations of former foreclosure lawyers Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson.

There was “no discovery of evidence of wrongdoing on the part of anyone involved in the matter,” an 85-page report written by Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater‘s inspector general, asked by Bondi to look into accusations that her office mishandled the terminations, concluded.

“The report confirms the terminations had nothing to do with politics or outside influence. Rather, it was about doing the right thing, in defense of the people of Florida,” Bondi said in a press release.

The report drew criticism from two Democratic lawmakers who have asked for an independent investigation into the matter.

“From the outset, the investigation requested by Attorney General Pam Bondi raised troubling questions. There was little to no independence as she turned to a colleague, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to look into her own conduct and that of her office. Much like a close relative investigating as opposed to a distant cousin, the pronouncement by Mr. Atwater’s office of ‘guilt-free” is hardly reassuring – to me, or the thousands of Florida homeowners looking for protection from foreclosure fraud abuse,” Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, said in a statement.

“Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson netted $2 million in foreclosure fraud damages for Floridians and were quickly fired thereafter. The termination of these attorneys is a violation of state policy by obstructing the prosecution of mortgage and foreclosure fraud. The inspector general’s report focuses, instead, on minutiae in order to avoid making a call on the big picture,” Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, said in press release.

State lawmakers expand inquiry into Bondi foreclosure fraud firings

Thursday, August 4th, 2011 by Dara Kam

From The Palm Beach Post‘s Kimberly Miller:

Two Democratic state lawmakers seeking federal assistance to investigate the ouster of state foreclosure fraud investigators have expanded their public records request of Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, and Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, say the request is in response to information they received about high-level attorney general lawyer Joe Jacquot going to work for Lender Processing Services, or LPS, as well as a former general counsel for Gov. Rick Scott’s former health care company, Solantic.

The Jacksonville-based company is under investigation by the attorney general’s office for its foreclosure-related practices. Shortly after Jacquot left Bondi’s office and went to work for LPS, Bondi fired two foreclosure fraud investigators.

“A number of troubling questions have come to our attention involving past and current employees of the Attorney General’s office and at least one mortgage processing company currently under investigation,” the two lawmakers wrote in a press release today. “In particular, we are especially concerned with the sudden departure to Lender Processing Services of your former special counsel, Joe Jacquot, and the subsequent dismissal of two apparently top notch foreclosure fraud attorneys _ June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards.”

Lender Processing Services is a former subsidiary of Fidelity National Financial. Both companies gave big donations _ to both Republicans and Democrats _ during the 2010 general election.

The Republican Party of Florida received about $19,000 from Fidelity, while the Democratic Party picked up $6,000. Fidelity also gave $2,000 to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, and $1,500 to winner Rick Scott.

LPS gave $36,500 to the Republican party and an additional $12,500 to the Democratic party.

Read Kimberly Miller’s blog here.

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