Inspector General Reviews Coerced Resignations
Oppenheim Law calls it suspicious.
June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards were forced to resign from the Florida Attorney General’s office in May. They were the state’s top foreclosure investigators, in charge of Florida’s part in the multi-state investigation into the document mill scandal. They produced an influential presentation on the document mill scandal that helped highlight the rampant abuses in the mortgage servicing industry.
Clarkson’s latest performance review gave her either “above average” or “exceeds expectations” in 14 of 15 categories; Edwards got those marks in all 15 categories. Then they were fired for poor job performance.
The story eventually leaked out to the papers. Progress Florida, a progressive political organization, started a petition calling for an investigation. Several members of the Legislature also have called for an investigation. Attorney General Bondi finally gave into the pressure and announced that an inspector general would review the coerced resignations.
The most suspicious part of the whole affair is that Clarkson and Edwards were quickly ushered out of the office. They were given no notice and not even allowed to prepare transitional notes for their replacements.
Additionally, a former special counsel to Bondi’s office was recently hired by Lender Processing Services as a senior vice president. LPS is one of the mortgage servicers under investigation for its part in the document mill scandal. LPS also contributed $6500 to Bondi’s election campaign.
The confluence of events, from the coerced resignations of top investigators to campaign contributions, has led some, like Florida State Senator Eleanor Sobel, to question Bondi’s impartiality. To be fair to the Attorney General, her spokesman has said that after the resignations of Clarkson and Edwards the investigative team into mortgage servicers has more than doubled. Clarkson and Edwards were also criticized by the Attorney General’s office for unduly aggressive and unprofessional behavior to opposing counsel.
It does not, however, remove the questions surrounding the coerced resignations. Regardless of the platitudes offered, it remains deeply suspicious given the reputation and performance evaluations of the lawyers in question. Oppenheim Law will closely monitor upcoming developments and will provide further updates.