‘The Republicans seem to be working really hard to keep the information in the memo a secret’
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Today Rep. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix (District 14), again asked Republican leadership for a copy of a memo that reportedly states that the raid of the Arizona Attorney General’s Mortgage Settlement Fund was unlawful.
Earlier this year, Tea Party Republicans approved a $50 million sweep from a fund created by a joint settlement between 49 states, the federal government and the country’s five largest residential mortgage loan servicers who allegedly engaged in fraudulent loan and foreclosure practices. The money was supposed to be used to help families and communities hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis. It would have paid for foreclosure prevention programs in Arizona.
The memo, which came from the Attorney General’s Office before the budget vote and reportedly cited legal arguments against the fund sweep, was the topic of a court hearing today. McCune Davis requested a copy of the memo before the budget vote. Republican leadership denied McCune Davis’ request, telling her the information was privileged.
“Apparently this memo was sent to a select few members of the legislature. That’s pure manipulation. Every member should have been able to see the memo before the vote,” McCune Davis said. “The money is supposed to be used to help people struggling to recover from the mortgage crisis. Instead, it is going to the general fund where it can be used for things like expanding private prisons. I am sure the families faced with losing their homes would prefer foreclosure prevention programs over more private prison beds.”
A group of Arizona residents affected by the foreclosure crisis is suing to block the Republican sweep of $50 million from the settlement fund. They requested a copy of the memo as part of the legal proceedings. Superior Court of Maricopa County Judge Mark Brain ruled today that the memo was not privileged but he stopped short of ordering the Republicans to release the document.
“In light of the judge’s decision today, I am again requesting a copy of the memo from the Republicans,” McCune Davis said. “If they knew ahead of time that the mortgage settlement fund sweep was illegal and they purposefully kept that information from members of the legislature before they voted on the sweep, then they have violated the public’s trust. The Republicans seem to be working really hard to keep the information in the memo a secret and that is inexcusable.”