Journal: One probe, 50 states, high stakes
From his office overlooking the Iowa Capitol, Tom Miller is confronting the reality of how hard it is to get all 50 state attorneys general to agree on anything.
The 66-year-old Miller, up for re-election Tuesday to his eighth four-year term as Iowa’s top law-enforcement official, leads the nationwide investigation into the foreclosure mess that erupted in September.
In a section-front story in this morning’s edition, The Wall Street Journal reported how the attorneys general are scrutinizing whether home-loan servicers violated state laws against deceptive practices by submitting affidavits and foreclosure documents without confirming the paperwork’s accuracy.
The investigation could lead to civil charges and inescapable pressure on financial institutions to rewrite a mountain of mortgages. Already, there are signs that state officials are working together to gain more leverage over companies such as Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Yet there also was a squabble over what to call the investigation, with some state officials preferring “inquiry” and others “effort.”
“I’m pleased when people are floating options and trying to look at alternatives,” Miller said with a smile and a shrug in an interview with the Journal last week. “As long as they aren’t saying: This is the way it’s got to be,” pounding on a wood conference table in a show of mock aggressiveness.