Rep. Bill Owens joined his New York delegation in writing a letter in support of the state's attorney general, who is involved in a battle over whether to settle with banks in the foreclosure mess.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was removed from an executive panel of state attorneys general who were negotiating with lenders to settle allegations that faulty documents were used to force people out of their homes. Mr. Schneiderman had resisted the settlement, because "he opposes any deal that gives participating banks a release from other litigation surrounding their mortgage activities," said Reuters.
Mr. Owens and the rest of the Dems wrote Iowa AG Tom MIller: "Your removal of Attorney General Schneiderman sets a dangerous precedent for other attorneys general who, out of fear of what might happen, may choose silence over voicing valid concerns with particular aspects of the proposed settlement."
Here is the full letter:
August 30, 2011
The Honorable Tom Miller
1305 East Walnut Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
Dear Attorney General Miller:
As members of the New York congressional delegation, we are united in fighting for a fair resolution of the housing crisis that has devastated tens of thousands of families across our state. That is why we are deeply troubled by your recent action to silence New York's voice by removing New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman from an executive committee negotiating a nationwide settlement with the banks. We ask that you explain how New York's interests will be protected as negotiations move forward.
New York's homeowners and investors have been hit hard by the economic impact of wrongdoing related to the mortgage crisis. According to the FBI, New York ranked as one of the top ten states for known or suspected mortgage fraud activity for two consecutive years. It also was one of the top ten states for reports of mortgage fraud across all originations in 2010. Undoubtedly, our state, the third largest in the nation, deserves a seat at any negotiating table that could potentially limit our state's ability to investigate and penalize wrongdoing done within our borders.
Raising legitimate concerns about elements of the proposed settlement is a responsibility of every member of the executive committee and should never be the basis for silencing a viewpoint. Your removal of Attorney General Schneiderman sets a dangerous precedent for other attorneys general who, out of fear of what might happen, may choose silence over voicing valid concerns with particular aspects of the proposed settlement. Moreover, your attempt to banish opposition rather than address varying viewpoints undermines both the validity of the process and any settlement reached by the committee.
New York deserves adequate representation during the remainder of the mortgage settlement negotiations. We look forward to hearing how you will ensure that New York's voice is heard.