The Other McCain

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Obama’s Erstwhile Allies: Left-Wingers Attack Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

Posted on | August 25, 2011 | 7 Comments

In February 2007, Iowa’s longtime Democratic attorney general Tom Miller endorsed Barack Obama, giving him an early boost in that key caucus state.

Fast-forward to October 2010. The “robo-signer” scandal had brought into question the legal validity of tens of thousands mortgages involved in foreclosure proceedings. Miller was announced to head up the Mortgage Foreclosure Multistate Group (MFMG), composed of the attorney generals of all 50 states, tasked with investigating the problem. In the months following that announcement, Miller reaped a bonanza of more than $250,000 campaign contributions from banking, insurance, and real-estate interests. Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone sees this as corruption (as if shady dealings were anything unusual in the age of the man who brought the “Chicago Way” to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue).

OK, so now New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman (who occupies the position once held by Eliot Spitzer) has been kicked off the executive committee of the mortgage investigation:

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was removed from a leadership role in negotiating a nationwide foreclosure settlement with U.S. banks because his office “actively worked to undermine” the effort, a state official said.
Schneiderman, who doesn’t want a settlement to bar further investigations of mortgage practices by individual states, was removed from the executive committee of state officials working on the deal, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said yesterday in a statement.
“New York has actively worked to undermine the very same multistate group that it had spent the previous nine months working very closely with,” said Miller, who is leading the state group. For a member of the executive committee, that “simply doesn’t make sense, is unprecedented and is unacceptable,” Miller said.

Now, the idea here is this: The MFMG is working to negotiate a blanket nationwide settlement, acting essentially as a broker to give the mortgage industry a package deal to settle all claims, rather than miring the industry in endless legal battles in multiple jurisdictions. Schneiderman apparently doesn’t want the settlement to preclude further state actions against lenders, but such a position effectively negates the purpose of the MFMG.

Are you following me so far? OK, so now it gets juicier. Scheiderman is claiming martydom and is being hailed as a hero by the Left, including David Dayen at Firedoglake:

The booting of Eric Schneiderman from the executive committee of the 50 state AG “investigation” of foreclosure fraud is pretty funny in this context: the AGs are supposed to be undertaking an investigation. Schneiderman is one of the few AGs actively involved in just such an investigation. And so he’s the one who has to get the boot.
This shows the depravity of once-respected Iowa AG Tom Miller, who is spearheading the “investigation.” He has wanted a settlement to put these issues behind the banks from the very beginning. He wants the headlines that come with the settlement, the pot of money to show that his efforts helped homeowners, and the minimal disruption such a settlement would provide.

Which is both (a) true and (b) absurd as an accusation, in that the entire purpose of the MFMG is “a settlement to put these issues behind the banks” — i.e., to find some equitable means to allow legitimate foreclosures to proceed, which is absolutely necessary to a recovery of the housing market.

As it is, lenders have thousands of homes on their books which are more than a year in delinquency, but which can’t be legally foreclosed and resold because “robo-signer” documents have clouded the titles. The huge stockpile of unforeclosed delinquencies is looming over the housing market and, until the backlog is cleared — until the deadbeats are evicted and the homes re-sold — the normal pricing system can’t function.

From a poltical perspective, however, this flap over the MFMG is a matter of priceless hilarity. Remember David Goodner, the left-wing anti-war pest who harassed Debbie Wasserman-Schultz at the Iowa State Fair? Goodner is a “community organizer” with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI), which is raising hell over Schneiderman’s ejection from the MFMG executive committee:

“Miller threw Schneiderman under the bus and as a result we’re likely to see a significantly weaker settlement,” said CCI member Judy Lonning from Des Moines. “We’re extremely disappointed. Tom has really let us down.” . . .
“Obama wants a quick settlement so this isn’t a campaign issue,” Lonning said. “He seems more interested in raking in campaign donations from Wall Street than he is in winning justice for everyday people and American homeowners, and Miller’s move played right into Obama’s hands.”
“It’s a cheap political shot, made to let the big banks get back to business and put Obama back in the White House,” Lonning said, “and in the meantime, American homeowners get to sit back and watch as the greedy bankers that ruined their lives are let off the hook once again.”

Damn right! Obama and Miller sold you out! They’re in the pockets of Wall Street! You’ve been betrayed! That means it’s time to . . . vote Republican.


7 Responses to “Obama’s Erstwhile Allies: Left-Wingers Attack Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller”

  1. Bob Belvedere
    August 25th, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

    Kudos, Stacy, for explaining this in a way that the glaze that wanted to encompass my eyeballs never had a chance.

  2. Anonymous
    August 25th, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

    Is there opportunity here? Perhaps allowing the likes of Goodner et al to exercise a brief period of “peoples justice” would have a salutary effect on the “civic virtue” of some of the more…, politically “miss-guided” elements of big business.

  3. Anonymous
    August 25th, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

    Avoid unecessarily repetitious redundancy in future, Stace: ALL Democrats are “once-respected…”

  4. McGehee
    August 25th, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

    Oh? You mean Gray Davis isn’t a Democrat anymore?

    I never respected him.

  5. Joe Ynot
    August 25th, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

    It’s not difficult to understand, if you know anything about NY politics. A settlement would be a disaster for: a) Lawyers, who want to make a fortune in lawsuites; and b) Schniederman, who wants to use this as a stepping stone to the governorship.

  6. Daily scoreboard « Don Surber
    August 25th, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

    […] From Robert Stacy McCain: “Obama’s Erstwhile Allies: Left-Wingers Attack Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. In […]

  7. ThePaganTemple
    August 26th, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

    I don’t know about point b, but point a is right on the money. The ABA probably sees this as another on-going cash cow, like the endless stream of tobacco lawsuits. These are one of the few issues where Democrats will cloak themselves in the mantle of states rights.