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Bondi cleared of wrongdoing in firing of two foreclosure attorneys

6

January

An investigation into the firing of two attorneys leading foreclosure fraud investigations found no wrongdoing by Attorney General Pam Bondi or anyone else in her office.

Though Bondi didn't directly call for June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards' termination, she was widely criticized this summer when the two went public with their story. Bondi said the inspector general's report, released Friday, vindicated the firings and shed light on concerns about the attorneys' work performance.

"The report confirms the terminations had nothing to do with politics or outside influence," Bondi said via a news release. "Rather, it was about doing the right thing, in defense of the people of Florida."

Ned Luczynski, the chief financial officer's inspector general, issued his report Friday afternoon, nearly five months after Bondi called for an independent investigation. In addition to interviewing Clarkson and Edwards, investigators also spoke with their co-workers in the Attorney General's Office and others who were connected to companies the two had investigated.

The beginning of the end, according to the report, was a PowerPoint presentation the two attorneys created that was criticized for having inaccurate or improper information about pending cases. The final straw was when Clarkson emailed a confidential subpeona document to Lisa Epstein, an outspoken activist against foreclosure fraud, the report said.

That was when Richard Lawson, director of the Attorney General's Economic Crimes Division, decided to let both Edwards and Clarkson go. Bondi was notified of the decision and the two resigned under pressure on May 20.

The inspector general's report details months of complaints about the two attorneys and said there were opportunities for better oversight from supervisors, but includes no recommendations for future action or changes in procedure.

Download CFO IG Report on Bondi

Here is Bondi's full statement:

"Today's 84-page Inspector General report concluded that the termination of two staff employees was based on their "disorganization"; "non-responsiveness" to public records requests, "factual errors" in public presentations; "sloppy" work; and "incorrect legal theories" that hindered investigations into critical cases dealing with foreclosure fraud."

The report confirms the terminations had nothing to do with politics or outside influence.   Rather, it was about doing the right thing, in defense of the people of Florida.

I will only have the very best, most skilled people on the job; those who embody the highest standards of ethics, responsibility, professionalism, and performance.

These two staff attorneys clearly and repeatedly failed to measure up to these standards. The report concludes the employees were terminated after 'demonstrating poor judgment and lack of independent investigation on high profile foreclosure mill cases.

As there is no indication any state employee violated a law, rule or policy…this inquiry is closed.

My commitment to protect consumers remains unwavering, especially when it comes to foreclosure fraud. So I will do everything I can to put, and keep, the very best legal team in play, fighting for Floridians."

[Last modified: Friday, January 6, 2012 5:13pm]

    

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