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Florida Democrats last week attacked Attorney General Bill McCollum in a press release, saying he didn't do enough to curb mortgage fraud. His "flippant response to homeowners in trouble," according to the Democrats, was, "You can’t do everything."
We wondered if the Republican gubernatorial candidate was indeed so "flip," especially at a time when mortgage flipping fraud was so pervasive in Florida. The state has ranked first nationwide in mortgage fraud every year since 2006.
Indeed, we found the Democrats quoted him correctly.
On July 25, 2009, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune ran a front-page article in which reporter Jeremy Wallace noted that McCollum had acknowledged that his agency hadn’t done enough to stop more than 10,000 cases of potentially illegal real estate deals uncovered by the West Florida newspaper (the Democrats' campaign literature cites the Herald-Tribune article but gives an incorrect date of July 25, 2007). In the story, McCollum cited a lack of resources and his agency’s limited jurisdiction over criminal mortgage fraud for his inability to do more.
The newspaper noted that McCollum had formed a task force in 2007 to investigate mortgage fraud cases, but that other consumer issues took priority. And so when a Sarasota reporter asked McCollum in an interview in Venice why he hadn’t done more on mortgage fraud prior, McCollum replied: "It’s not the only thing we do. You can’t do everything." It's worth noting that McCollum gave his response to the Herald-Tribune – and, not as the Democrats say, to "homeowners in trouble."
Still, the Democrats were right about his words and quoted him accurately. We find their statement True.
Florida Democratic Party, "Bill McCollum Tries to Gloss Over Lack of Action on Mortgage Fraud with Election Year Workshop," May 8, 2010
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune, "Flipping fraud: an issue avoided on the campaign trail?" July 25, 2009, accessed via Nexis
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