Eliminating the FHA Refinance Program is good for Cory Gardner's campaign coffers (updated)
Today, Cory Gardner voted with his Republican brethren to terminate the FHA Refinance Program, which works to help homeowners that are struggling with their mortgages (Roll Call # 171). The program was established to help curb the foreclosure crisis during the height of the recession and is still needed by homeowners across the country and the 4th District. Does Cory Gardner think that the economic crisis is over for homeowners everywhere?
Well, I think the explanation is a lot simpler: he accepted a large amount of campaign contributions from groups that profit from foreclosures and now he's working to earn them.
It seems that almost every time a home in Colorado is foreclosed on, Cory Gardner receives a campaign contribution. In addition to the many mortgage company and banking PACs that contributed to his campaign, Cory Gardner accepted nearly $30,000 from a single law firm that in 2006 the Denver Post said "dominates the foreclosure business in Colorado."
That article titled "Homeowners' losses are others' gains" detailed the many industries that profit from increased foreclosures in the state. The law firm of Castle, Meinhold, & Stawiarski, from 2003 to 2006, handled 62.2 percent (nearly 24,000) of the foreclosures in Weld, Adams, Arapahoe, and Denver counties. Though its revenues were not made available, the Denver Post estimated the firm's revenue, just from foreclosures, as high as $18.4 million during the period. The firm even has its own title company, which also profits from title work on foreclosures.
Looking at publicly available and easily searchable campaign finance reports from Gardner's 2010 campaign, you will find contributions from Castle Meinhold employees and their families totaling $29,200 in 2009. Almost all of these contributors contributed the maximum amount allowable under the law to Gardner before he had even won the GOP primary.
Also, if you dig back a ways, voting against homeowners in duress is nothing new for Gardner, who voted in 2008 in the state legislature against a bill that would have required lenders to give at least 30 days notice of changes in interest rate or other factors affecting the homeowner's payment. And in 2009 he voted against similar legislation.
“I hope he is not saying that he is a strong proponent of consumer protection and helping out people…. He has been on the side of deregulating financial institutions and not doing the proper protections to help those in foreclosure,” Ferrandino said. “I don’t remember him voting for any. He voted against my bills.”
Ferrandino said he is referring to HB 1276 in 2009 and HB 1402 in 2008, which he and Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, sponsored, along with other Democrats. Ferrandino said both those bills specifically target borrowers in serious danger of losing their homes.
I guess his vote to dismantle a homeowner supporting program shouldn't be surprising in light of his campaign receipts and legislative past.
UPDATED: On Friday, March 11, Gardner also voted to support H.R. 836 (Roll Call 174), "to end a program designed to give federal loans to homeowners who can't make mortgage payments because they've lost their jobs or become ill." (Denver Post, March 11 - House votes to end emergency mortgage aid). He has remained silent about these votes, maybe because he doesn't want to boast to troubled homeowners that he is eliminating programs that could say their homes.