This afternoon, Rep. Jay Inslee (WA-01) sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder to share his concerns regarding recent developments in possible settlement discussions between state attorneys general, federal regulators, and mortgage servicers. In March of this year, Rep. Inslee introduced amendments to evaluate and improve homeowner assistance programs and strengthen efforts to investigate and prosecute wrong doing in the mortgage market. The text of the letter is as follows:
September 27, 2011
Hon. Eric Holder, Jr.
Attorney General of the United States
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Holder,
In May, I joined 33 of my colleagues in writing you to express concerns with the ongoing settlement talks between state attorneys general, federal regulators, and mortgage servicers who have engaged in improper and unlawful activities when pursuing home foreclosures. Recent media accounts on the substance of those discussions do not give me confidence that the best interests of American taxpayers and homeowners are being upheld.
As a former prosecuting attorney, I understand how important it is to fully investigate any alleged wrongdoing in order that those responsible may be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
A full investigation is important for two reasons. First, we can't fix what we can't see. For years, banks and mortgage companies have been taking advantage of working families and investors. To respond we need to know everything they have done and punish those responsible. It is a sad commentary on our society that protestors standing up for American families in this mess get carted off to jail while individuals and companies have yet to be held accountable.
Second, to take the necessary steps to stave off yet another flood of foreclosures we need tens of billions more than what is reportedly being discussed as part of a settlement. Financial institutions got us into this mess, they should play the leading role in helping families get out of it.
However, it appears that current discussions are more focused on a quick resolution, a small amount of money, and blanket immunity for mortgage servicers. If these reports are incorrect I would recommend you immediately correct the record.
Let me be clear as to what I believe the American people expect and deserve out of any talks or possible settlement. Any settlement that gives servicers and/or banks blanket immunity from prosecution is unacceptable. Any settlement that short-circuits a thorough investigation into mortgage and foreclosure practices is unacceptable. And any settlement that does not create a substantial fund from which to assist homeowners is unacceptable.
As so many families find themselves without even the most basic of necessities - shelter - it is imperative that you act to protect the American people and prosecute those responsible for putting them on the street. I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.
Very truly yours,