Eric Schneiderman is finding out he sold out to the Administration for far too little. The New York state attorney general torpedoed the opposition to the mortgage settlement via joining a newly-established mortgage fraud investigation and then going silent on where he stood on the settlement.
It was easy to see this task force wasn’t a serious effort. Schneiderman was only a co-chairman. The co-chairman, Lanny Breuer, was from the heretofore-missing-in-action Department of Justice. No one on the task force was head of a Federal agency.
The idea that this effort was all for show and would at most deliver a few suits conveniently close to the election was confirmed by its staffing. Schneiderman looked foolish when he said he’d have hundreds of investigators at his disposal, when Breuer announced it would be a mere 55. Those numbers are so paltry it begged the question as to what if anything Schneiderman was getting from this deal. If he has stuck with his earlier plan of a combined state AG effort, they probably could have mustered up this level of staffing among the 15 states that were considering breaking with the Administration prior to the Schneiderman betrayal.
And in further proof of what bad judgment Schneiderman demonstrated, Dave Dayen highlighted this find in an e-mail from Credo:
And now we’re hearing from insiders in Washington DC, that the full complement of 55 promised investigators — which is already not nearly enough — haven’t even been deployed to the task force.
Credo stresses the point made here and elsewhere, that other investigations of financial fraud have had much higher staffing levels, with 1000 FBI agents tasked to the savings and loan crisis and over 100 to Enron. You might contrast this pathetic effort with the account from Bill Black posted today on his experience with the Lincoln Savings/Charles Keating investigation.
I urge readers to sign the Credo petition to demand more staffing for this task force. It won’t change outcomes, but it will let the Administration know that you aren’t fooled.