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Florida AG Bondi Wants Outside Investigation into Clarkson, Edwards Firing

It looks like the pressure has finally cracked Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. After weeks of outrage from housing advocates, and controversy in the media, over the firing of two assistant AGs who were pursuing cases against foreclosure mills and other malign operators profiting off the foreclosure crisis, Bondi has backtracked significantly. Now she wants an investigation over the matter to be done by an inspector general:

Under intense scrutiny for ousting two foreclosure fraud investigators from her office, state Attorney General Pam Bondi said she stands by those decisions but will ask an outside inspector general to review the terminations.

In particular, Bondi said, she is concerned about her office’s lack of documentation on the forced resignations of Assistant Attorneys General Theresa Edwards and June Clarkson in May.

Liberal advocacy group Progress Florida and a Democratic state lawmaker have called for investigations into the ousters of the two attorneys, who had received high marks from Bondi’s predecessor for their investigations into “foreclosure mills.”

Edwards and Clarkson were investigating at least one company that had donated money to the state Republican Party and several Republican candidates, including Bondi.

Bondi wants to use the IG from the state’s chief financial officer for the review. The Attorney General answers to her, so this is an effort to make the investigation look more independent. This is not quite enough for state Rep. Darren Soto (D), who has requested the opening of a DoJ investigation, and plans to talk with US Senator Bill Nelson about it.

Meanwhile, Bondi’s focus on the lack of documentation is really an indictment of her own top personnel who committed the firings. She’s implying that the three top executives that did the firings acted inappropriately or without proper protocols. I doubt that the endgame here is that Clarkson and Edwards will get their jobs back, but those executives might want to add to their resumes.

Of course, Bondi is distancing herself from what ultimately has to be seen as her decision. I doubt the advocates will let her get away with that.

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David Dayen

David Dayen