It’s a sign of just how serious the mortgage foreclosure frauds are if the powers that be are indeed jumping to cover their butts with this law. Yves at Naked Capitalism has the details:
With the stakes so high for the various parties to securitizations, the first line of defense of the incumbents is to try to minimize the problem. But the fact that more extreme measures are being readied suggests they are coming to understand that this cesspool might be plenty deep.
One sighting (hat tip 4ClosureFraud) is the effort by the Ohio Secretary of State to enlist support against a proposed measure to allow for electronic notarizations. The Secretary hints strongly that this measure being put forward is directly related to the revelation of affidavit improprieties, which further suggests that the banks might regard this as a remedy for this particular, um, lapse:
H.R. 3808 is known as the “Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act.” It passed the House under a suspension of the rules in April 2010. It requires federal and state courts to recognize any notarization that is lawful in the state where the notary is licensed. Now, in one day, it passed in the Senate.
When I learned of it last Thursday, it sounded innocuous to me, but then I started looking at the timing of the bill. GMAC, owned by Ally, had just suspended its foreclosure actions in 23 states, including Ohio. I had already referred Chase Home Finance, LLC, on August 23, 2010, to the U.S. Department of Justice, asking it to review and investigate Chase’s document notarization practices in home foreclosures (18,000 documents per month were being notarized by 8 people, along with other irregularities). I license notaries in the State of Ohio. Even though I don’t have the power under state law to investigate or prosecute, I couldn’t stand idly by without acting. That’s why I’m asking you to email or call the President at 202-456-1111 to ask him not to sign the bill.
Last Wednesday, the day before I announced the DOJ referral, JPMorgan Chase announced it was having third party counsel review its document procedures for foreclosures. Just two days before, the U.S. Senate had rushed through H.R. 3808. Something didn’t seem right. Since then others agree with me.
Yves here. This development reveals how this battle is likely to play out. Now that judges in some states are starting to take these dubious, potentially fraudulent measures seriously, the next line of attack is to get the more bought-and-paid-for Federal government to intercede on behalf of the banks. As the e-mail by the Ohio Secretary shows, this is a state versus Federal rights issue. And the problem is that these solutions will be depicted as “efficient,” just as securitizations and other “innovations” were.
And while efficiency in theory is a good thing, it must always be kept secondary to the overall integrity of the system, otherwise, you run the risk of breakdown. Using dubious arguments to overturn well settled law to get the banking industry out of a monster mess it created is a Faustian bargain. It makes it abundantly clear what is really at stake here, which is the rule of law. Banks that were quick to defend unjustifiable pay deals by invoking “sanctity of contract” have no inhibition about ignoring their own contracts to pad their bottom line, and ultimately, the wallets of top executives.
Rather than deal with the considerable consequences of these abuses, the banks are prepared to bulldoze well settled state laws to give them an easy way out. And I’m not basing my view on this story alone; I had a conversation yesterday with a Congressional staffer who matter-of-factly said (but with little understanding of the underlying issues) that Congress would intervene on behalf of the industry, via its authority over national banks.The result is that we institutionalize kleptocracy while keeping largely gutted forms of due process as theater. The powers that be hope that the broad public will remain unaware of what is really at work.
However, the battle is not yet lost. Elizabeth Warren has said she will stand up for consumers and is a vocal advocate of contracts as a mechanism for protecting the interests of American families. This issue could serve as an opportunity for her to demonstrate that her appointment as de facto head of the new financial services consumer protection agency is not mere Obama Administration window dressing (or more accurately, that her appointment was a PR ploy, but Warren is able nevertheless to turn it to her advantage).
In addition, an increasing number of Congressmen, as least at this juncture, are lining up in this fight in favor of borrowers and against well funded business interests who provide hefty campaign donations is a hopeful sign. It may be that there is enough left of what passes for propriety in this country that even the Congress can’t be rolled so easily on this one.