While America has been waiting for Congress and state legislatures to get their act together on the foreclosure crisis, some state attorneys general have been taking matters into their own hands and taking law-enforcement actions against predatory lending practices and corporate abuses. In doing so they have helped establish statewide intolerance levels for predatory lending and put pressure on other government officials to figure out how to use whatever powers at their disposal to enact consumer protections.
This entry is cross-posted on the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy blog.
With a new report, the ACORN Financial Justice Center has helped shine a light on state attorney general advocacy, legal activism, and even direct service in the struggle against abusive real-estate practices and the rising tide of foreclosures.
The Financial Justice Center report “seeks to collect stories of the work that all 51 attorneys general have done, highlight and recommend the best practices and cutting-edge strategies that have employed, and compare their efforts and willingness to engage in solving this crisis and preventing the next one with those of their colleagues around the nation.”
The report assigns grades to Attorneys General, from “F” to “A+”, using a series of criteria and even assigning “extra credit”:
All told, there are six attorneys general who particularly stood out for their aggressive and creative leadership in solving this crisis: Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakely, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, and Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson, who all earned an ‘A+’ grade.
Some of you may remember that DMI highlighted the efforts of Lori Swanson, who championed what is widely recognized as the one of the strongest predatory lending laws in the country. At the same time, most New Yorkers themselves do not know that Andrew Cuomo won reforms from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as from the three major rating agencies. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Attorney General, Tom Corbett, along with other 11 attorneys general, received an “F” grade.
Given the fact that advocates need to turn up the volume on elected officials on the local, state, and federal level to address the foreclosure crisis, this report, like all great scorecards, performs an invaluable service by putting into stark relief who is getting the job done — and who’s not.