Turns out we aren’t the only ones who noticed the giant money grab of homeowner-intended damage compensation by Jan Brewer and the AZ Legislature.
AZ Republic columnist E.J. Montini noticed:
Valerie Iverson, executive director of the Arizona Housing Alliance, put it this way, “Why do we even have an attorney general? Isn’t his job to stand up for consumers?”
And if not him, the governor?
And if not her, the legislature?
And if not any of them…
“We are preparing our lawsuit and we will challenge this,” said Iverson.
The group has enlisted the aid of Tim Hogan from the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest and Ellen Katz of the William E. Morris Institute for Justice.
“I don’t believe this ‘sweep’ will stand a court challenge,” Hogan told me. “This money came from a lawsuit settlement. I believe the funds aren’t available for appropriation because they were part of a fairly explicit consent judgment.”
The challenge for the housing alliance and its lawyers will be to prevent Horne’s office from transferring the funds to the legislature.
“We figure that we have a little time,” Iverson said. “But we want to be ready. We don’t want to be blindsided. Again.”
That’s what happened toward the end of the legislative session, she said. The alliance had heard that the Republicans who control the legislature were asking about the settlement money meant to assist homeowners. But Iverson was been told by capitol insiders that there were no plans for a sweep.
She wasn’t consulted by any legislators.
“It was absolutely the opposite,” Iverson said. “It was more like they were deliberately trying to hide what they were doing.
AG Tom Horne feared for his budget if he bucked the combined ambition of the Legislature and the Governor.
Whoa. And there’s this:
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and her allies in the state legislature are seeking to use millions of dollars intended for struggling homeowners to pay for prison construction and tax cutsinstead, echoing a policy put in place earlier this year in Wisconsin by Governor Scott Walker.
Remember the $26 billion foreclosure settlement, the one agreed upon by the five biggest banks and 49 state Attorneys General? As one of the hardest hit states, Arizona is getting $1.6 billion, as well as an additional $97.7 million to be overseen by the office of Attorney General Tom Horne, to be used for “housing counselors, legal aid, hotlines, and to help stressed homeowners with their payments.”
Two main things to understand about these funds: they are wildly insufficient given the scale of the problem, but all the same they are extremely crucial. In March, Arizona had the highest foreclosure rate in the country, according to RealtyTrac, with 9,497 foreclosures. If any state needs all the help it can get when it comes to homeowner education, assistance, and relief, it’s Arizona.
. . .
Of all the horrific policies that have come out of the offices of governors like Walker in the past two years, this is one of the worst – and the most under-reported. With Walker and Brewer giving out huge tax handouts to businesses, cutting services and education, and then dipping into foreclosure fraud assistance to pay for their bad decisions, they are no different than a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. Robbery in multiple steps is still robbery, even if you’re a governor.