David Dayen, in a pointed article titled, “The Corruption of the Financial Press: A Look at Housing Wire” documents how that mortgage “news” site has extensive business and financial connections with firms and individuals at the frontlines of dubious mortgage industry practices and has repeatedly gone to bat for its biggest advertiser even in the face of criminal investigations.
Housing Wire’s proprietor, Paul Jackson, made this inquiry fair game in a recent post, “Follow the money: Interpreting U.S. Bank v. Congress” in which he took aim at the Alabama attorneys who tried defending a client against what they contended was a wrongful foreclosure, using the untested strategy we had mentioned on this blog, the so-called New York trust theory. The court rejected the case on narrow grounds (the suit was fighting the ejectment, a stage after the foreclosure; any precedent on ejectment actions will have limited applicability in Alabama and none in other states). But Jackson went further than arguing the issues of the case or the importance of the decision. Based on no evidence, he denigrated the attorneys involved, claiming they must have big money backers (and we separately dispatched his spurious charges):
In other words, everything is about the money, and if you can find a viable angle to make more of it than someone else. And I mean everything….. As a result, it would be fascinating to learn who really bankrolled the defense in this particular case. Sometimes defense attorneys will put up their own money to defend a case like this — it’s not unheard of — but it’s far from the norm.
With the benefit of Dayen’s sleuthing, Jackson’s post is revealed as a classic case of projection, in which someone attributes to others the very sort of behavior he engages in. Per Dayen:
What is Housing Wire, anyway? The principals of it and its parent company, the LTV Group, are Paul Jackson, and Richard Bitner. He used to be a subprime mortgage broker, and he wrote a book about it called Confessions of a Subprime Lender. Bitner has compared himself in interviews to a drug dealer for his career in the subprime industry.
The main shareholders in Housing Wire, and its publisher LTV Publishing, which is also an advertising/PR/marketing company, are:
Robert Jackson, Paul’s father and a CEO at Jackson and Associates, an REO (real estate owned; it means a property owned by a bank or government entity after an unsuccessful foreclosure auction) lawyer; Berry Laws, a partner at Martin, Leigh, Laws & Fritzlen, a foreclosure mill law firm out of Kansas, linked to robo-signing, which also owns a title company; and Benny Nassiri, the owner of Asset Financial Network, which specializes in foreclosure properties. Basically, someone cashing in on the misery of others. She has also worked with IndyMac, the collapsed subprime lender.
So this is the group around Housing Wire: foreclosure firms, an REO broker and an ex-subprime lender. If it is indeed “all about the money,” there’s a lot of guilt by association here. All of these people make money off the broken housing market and its constant stream of foreclosures.
But there’s more. The leading advertiser for Housing Wire is, in fact, LPS (Lender Processing Services). You may have heard of them because they have been implicated in multiple criminal investigations for producing fake documents for foreclosure cases. LPS ran DocX, the company that sold “authentic” documents to foreclosure mill law firms at cut rates. And they continued this profit center even outside of DocX:
Questionable signing and notarization practices weren’t limited to its subsidiary, called DocX, but occurred in at least one of LPS’s own offices, mortgage assignments filed in county recorders’ offices show. And rather than halt such practices after the federal investigation got underway, the company shifted the signing to firms with which it has close business ties. LPS provided personnel to work in the new signing operations, according to information from an LPS spokeswoman and court records including an October 21 ruling by a judge in Brooklyn, New York. Records in county recorders’ offices, and in the judge’s opinion, show that “robosigning” and preparation of apparently false documents went on at these sites on a large scale.
In one instance, it helped set up a massive signing operation at the nearby office of a major client, a spokeswoman for the client, American Home Mortgage Servicing, confirmed. LPS-hired notaries who worked there said in interviews that troves of documents were improperly handled. They said that about 200 affidavits per day were robosigned during the two months the two notaries remained there.
See also here and here. Yet Jackson has repeatedly defended LPS, its leading advertiser, from these charges, minimizing their legal exposure. One of the principals of the company, Benny Nassiri, also lists herself as affiliated with LPS.
Here’s the point. Jackson has a habit of throwing around statements like “it’s all about the money,” but his organization really fails under that standard. It’s filled with people from the mortgage industry who obviously have an incentive to minimize the conduct of the mortgage industry. It also makes its money from the mortgage industry. This is part and parcel of the financial press in all its sleaze.
Our Richard Smith pointed out that Jackson’s “follow the money” standard meant Jackson himself was not reliable:
Taking guidance from this exceedingly dubious, indeed self-refuting claim (if it’s all about the money, we can’t trust Jackson either, can we?) is quite foolish.
I think we can now go even further, that if you listen to Jackson, you can assume it’s only the money talking.
Jackson’s an idiot! He forgot the Prime Directive of the Internet: “You can run, but you can’t hide.”
Indeed. Jackson is the teeny tiny itsy bitsy mind unable to distinguish between digital, digitized, and original signatures.
In other words, Paul Jackson is evidently unable to distinguish between make-believe Photoshoppy fraudulent mortgage docs, robosigned docs, and legitimate documents.
Which does kind of raise the question: are they paying him with genuine legal tender, or are his paymasters fobbing him off with some state-of-the-art forged money? How would he know? Could he tell the difference….?
(So much room for the imagination here… ‘twould be such fun if it turned out that Paul had been paid with robodollars.)
So it is, in the end, ‘all about the money’. At least, for Paul.
The credibility of Paul Jackson’s money, in so very many ways, raises a variety of droll hypothesis, among them the notion that Paul’s payment will turn out to be … fraudulent.
It would be so fitting.
Any AG’s that sign-off on any agreement should realize that there’s a lot of heat ahead…
I’d think even a corrupt attorney general would have more sense than to cut off his or her options at this stage… unless they’ve already resolved themselves to a role as political sacrificial lambs.
And honest ones would be doing serious investigations. Hmmmm… I never get any calls.
Anyway, ultimately this requires finding consensus for a political intervention… and politicians with the guts to push it through.
Money technology has been fundamentally broken and corrupted (or to put a kinder face on it: gamed) for quite a few years depending on where you want to draw the line.
The point is we’ve actually gone through what is the equivalent of a natural disaster provoked by a breakdown in a human technology. Really not altogether dissimilar to a nuclear meltdown once you begin to understand that money, finance, law, government… are TECHNOLOGIES THAT CAN AND DO PERIODICALLY BREAK!
I’m so damned pissed at the lack of understanding of the true nature or the true issues…
which lead, btw, in my ignorant and unsophisticated opinion to better solutions.
It really is up to us… it always has been.
Just to add to the general depression, 4closurefraud has a story up that the FL AG settled with one of their notorious foreclosure mills for a whopping $2 million and no admission of guilt, just a promise that the ‘lawyers’ will not do the things they don’t admit to have done anymore.
Does the $2M go to the homeowners wronged by this rogue law firm? No, of course not. Half goes to the AG’s office so it can continue to not investigate, not prosecute and not castigate other rogue legal firms and half goes to Legal Aid organizations that represent desperate homeowners trying to prevent the theft of their homes by the mega-banks.
And Marshall C. Watson, the law firm in question, gets to stay out of jail, gets to stay in business and will roll along its merry way sucking luchre from the corpus of distressed home owners.
What a country!!
I would like to add this thought… One of the possible fundamental reasons why a society ‘works’, (such as when small bands of humans banded together into tribes, why merchants established a trading relationships across countries, why people in Europe and Canada people buy medicne without fear of being poisoned, why financial institutions lend to each other ) is that people and institutions act in a trustworthy manner. If people and institutions do not act in a trustworthy manner, you get breakdowns in market ( like financial crisis and bank runs), and social distrust and opposition, (such as the rise of the tea party) or at worst widescale social robbery or civil vigilantism or civil war.
At present, the US has instituted policies that benefit the untrustworthy and the deceitful…laws and enforcement have benefited unscrupulous energy companies, tobacco companies, health insurance companies, and the financial sectors. This will slowly destroy the fabric of American society, inevitably causing cooperation, civility, and innovation to decline.
Here is criminal who will be doing jail time for mortgage fraud:
A few weeks ago, when the Justice Department decided not to prosecute Angelo Mozilo, the former chief executive of Countrywide, I wrote a column lamenting the fact that none of the big fish were likely to go to prison for their roles in the financial crisis.
…[But] There was, in fact, someone behind bars for what he’d supposedly done during the subprime bubble. …
Mr. Engle’s is a tale worth telling for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its punch line. Was Mr. Engle convicted of running a crooked subprime company? Was he a mortgage broker who trafficked in predatory loans? A Wall Street huckster who sold toxic assets?
No. Charlie Engle wasn’t a seller of bad mortgages. He was a borrower. And the “mortgage fraud” for which he was prosecuted was something that literally millions of Americans did during the subprime bubble. Supposedly, he lied on two liar loans.
Jail time is just for the little people.
Saw this out on the internet highway tonight:
The Corruption of the Financial Press: A Look at Housing Wire
But Jackson took this a step too far. He’s had a long-running feud with Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith on the subject,… ??
I am glad to see the integration and cross posting within an array of blogs providing alternative information, news and commentary.
There is power in numbers but none are in jail but the little people…..please and thank you for beating the drums, Yves!
Not really a feud. More like a war.
And Housing Wire is on the wrong side. Fortunately, NC is deeper, smarter, and has justice on their side.
I suggest that Housing Wire sue for peace at once, while they have some credibility remaining.
Too late now.
McCalla Raymer is one of the largest foreclosure mills in the south; it, together with its corporate sibling, Prommis Solutions, are the two main ingredients in the Fidelity/Certegy recipe for fraudclosure.
It is actually rather difficult to even find McCalla Raymer’s website on the internet, but, here it is:
When you get to the MR home page, there is a toolbar on the left that says “Industry News,” with a headline of each news story that is being covered.(The stories will look familiar if you have recently visited The HousingWire.)
Alas, when you click on the “news” icon, it takes you directly to The HousingWire website.
The HousingWire is literally the news feed for the industry.
I hope you take great satisfaction in being one of Paul’s targets. I know I do.
Given that “everything is about the money”, it is safe to say that if he is trying to denigrate what you are saying, then you are absolutely saying the right things!
My personal experience with Paul Jackson is that he had a pretty good handle on the industry and sees both sides. The expectation that Housing Wire must adopt a point of view of those that express their opinion here is completely unfair and inconsistent with his First Amendment right. I agree and disagree with many things Housing Wire writes. However, I agree and disagree with things written here on Naked Capitalism, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the list goes on and on. I get a lot of great information from Housing Wire. Some of it I conclude on my own intelligence is BS. To conclude, I kind of feel this piece is more of a hit piece has omits that intelligent people get to form their own opinions and no one, not Housing Wire nor Naked Capitalism has a lock on their opinions being the right one. I will reach that conclusion on my own and acknowledge I may or may not be correct, as is Housing Wire and Naked Capitalism. I will continue to read them both and form my own opinion.
Jackson doesn’t “see both sides”. What he has said about robosigning, foreclosure fraud, “show me the note” isn’t just cribbed from the Mortgage Bankers Association and the American Securitization Forum, it reads like their infomercials. In light of his funding sources, and what he has written in his own name, and then the way he has attacked his opponents, it’s legitimate to question his objectivity and independence. He’s been wrong 100% of the time when he and NC have crossed swords. If you can’t see that, I’d bet you are part of the industry or have other reasons to be a buyer of what Jackson is selling.
Reading housing wire their bias is obvious I intuitively knew this.
In response to David, who is admittedly valiant in his effort to balance his well-written argument – it is important to reveal media bias when it exists, although clearly HousingWire MUST defend the industry. However, it is one thing to defend the industry, and another entirely to pander to it. HousingWire panders, big time. And that’s what this article points out. Yves’ insightful observation that Paul Jackson is “projecting” that it is all about the money is right on target. As a former follower of HousingWire, I had greater expectations than for them to become just another pandering “trade rag”. Press releases are not news stories. And the owners of publications should not come running to the defense of their largest advertisers using the editorial pulpit. Jackson is a sell-out.