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Republicans ‘stole’ $50 million meant for homeowners

I am tired of the political cat and mouse game that Tea Party Republicans are playing with the Arizona Attorney General’s Mortgage Settlement Fund. It was wrong to sweep money from the fund to benefit the private prison industry at the expense of Arizona homeowners.

Earlier this year, Tea Party Republicans stole

$50 million from a fund that was created by a joint settlement between 49 states, the federal government and the country’s five largest residential mortgage loan servicers who allegedly engaged in fraudulent loan and foreclosure practices. The money was supposed to be used for foreclosure prevention programs in Arizona to help families hit hardest by the mortgage crisis.

Instead, $50 million was swept into the general fund and can be used to pay for things like the expansion of private, for-profit prisons. Coincidently, this year Republicans approved spending

$50 million between now and fiscal year 2014 to build 500 new beds in private prisons.

Here are my questions: How many families would be able to keep their homes if that $50 million were being spent on them instead of on 500 new prison beds? Also, do prison beds really cost $100,000 a piece? It seems to me that $100,000 is closer to the cost of a house than a bed.

This is a clear indication that Tea Party priorities are with the private prison industry. Tea Party Republicans knew that sweeping this fund was going to result in lawsuits and they did it anyway.

As soon as the fund sweep became public, there were reports that the Arizona Attorney General’s Office sent Republican leadership a memo citing legal objections to the sweep.

Republicans have refused to share this memo. A group of Arizona residents affected by the mortgage crisis is suing to stop the fund sweep and requested a copy of the memo as part of the legal proceedings. The Republicans refused, claiming that it was privileged information. A judge subsequently ruled that the memo was not privileged but stopped short of ordering them to turn over the document.

The very fact that Republicans were working so hard to keep that memo from seeing the light of day is another indication of their misplaced priorities. They are playing hide-and-seek with the court while people are losing their homes.

Arizonans deserve leadership they can count on and who shares their priorities. House Democrats remain focused on creating jobs, improving education and helping communities get and stay strong.

— Chad Campbell, a Phoenix Democrat, serves as minority leader in the Arizona House of Representatives.

8 comments

  1. Another obvious indication that Corrections Corporation of America and lobbyist Chuckie Coughlin owns the Governor and the Teapublicans. Arizona is sliding into a stinking swamp of corruption and the stench gets worse by the day.

  2. It’s shameful that the Republicans took money from the foreclosure fund to pad a Rainy Day fund they know will be spent quickly when the 1 cent sales tax ends and new corporate tax cuts begin. They’ll do anything to keep passing tax cuts that have not proven to work over the last 20 years. All of those tax cuts have taken $3 billion annually from the General Fund. Obviously there are tax cuts that were deserved during that time. But when there is no planning for how much those tax cuts affect the needs of the state, and no proof that those tax cuts are increasing jobs and revenue growth, then the Legislature is not doing its job. Lack of investments in schools (classroom and maintenance) and higher education have driven up the costs to local taxpayers and property owners (through school tax overrides) and for students attending in-state universities. When times are good, tax cuts are appropriate; but when the state is forgoing basic needs to give corporations, a large percentage of which are paying no taxes, another tax cut, then its throwing money down a hole and digging the state deeper into debt for no good reason, except to prove that a certain legislator is a “tax cutter”.

  3. Tom, Well said. CCA / High Ground lobbyists / Chuck Coughlin / the Sensemans (husband/wife team) / ALEC / setting public policy — demands an investigation of conflict of interests starting at the very top. Who are the puppets? Who are the puppeteers? Who are the enablers?

  4. Private prisons are a rip-off of taxpayers hard earned money which leads to ever more laws resulting in (surprise) a growing prison population which increases profits for private prison owners. When will this state learn that the private sector is not always benign nor do they do a better job. People in public or private activities provide the workforce. Greed plays a big role in the private sector and I would prefer not to increase the prison population in order to add to corporate wealth. Dump private prisons and impeach blondie.

  5. Once again the taxpayers are the losers. Get informed, attend the meeting: “Arizona is MAXED OUT!”

    Solitary confinement costs millions of taxpayer dollars and does nothing to reduce crime or make our communities safer. Yet 3,000 people are held in isolation in Arizona prisons each year. And Gov. Brewer is planning to build 500 more maximum-security prison beds. Sign the petition to tell her to stop.

    This week, AFSC released a new report on the impact of long-term isolation on prisoner reentry and recidivism. It shows how long-term solitary confinement creates more problems than it allegedly solves—and why it should be abolished.

    Join us and the ACLU of Arizona as we kick off a statewide “Arizona is Maxed Out” tour in Phoenix from 6-8 p.m. next Tuesday, Aug. 14. This community forum will feature presentations about pending ACLU litigation and AFSC’s new report on prisoner re-entry after isolation. Visit our website for details.

  6. Arizona Governor and legislators favor (have been bought out?) incarceration over education. Swiping $50,000,000 from the mortgage foreclosure settlement intended for the homeowners is shameful. And to be used for 500 maximum security private prison corporation “beds” that Arizona does NOT need? Isn’t this conflict of interest / fraud and / or criminal activity? The government against the people = Arizona.

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