Ducheny Chastises Vargas for "Special Interest" Favors
May 5, 2012 (San Diego) -- Congressional Candidate Denise Moreno Ducheny took issue with Senator Juan Vargas's recent voting record and called on the Senator to back a strong set of foreclosure protection bills being discussed in the Senate this week. "The recent voting record of my opponent is a disservice to the residents of San Diego and Imperial Counties," Ducheny said in a statement. "He should be spending more time focusing on the needs of his constituents, not just those special interest groups who write his campaign checks."
Ducheny is concerned that her opponent will attempt to scuttle the upcoming Homeowner's Bill of Rights. The legislation has hit a roadblock because its authors are worried some Democrats, like Vargas, will not support it. "I am concerned that he will try to kill the legislation, just as he did last year," Ducheny stated. "Homeowners need strong protection from unlawful practices and this bill is crucial to ensuring that."
The Homeowner's Bill of Rights is a series of bills that aim to protect homeowners from mortgage foreclosure abuses. The two key components being discussed are a homeowner's private right of action and a ban on "dual tracking". The private right of action allows homeowner's legal restitution against wrongful foreclosure. A ban on dual tracking would prohibit banks from foreclosing on homeowners who are in the process of renegotiating their loan terms. While dual tracking is currently illegal under federal law, there is no mechanism in place to enforce it. Vargas opposed similar legislation last year when it appeared as Senate Bill 729. The bill failed to come out of the Banking Committee, which Vargas chairs.
Other organizations have also taken Vargas to task over the bill. The Courage Campaign and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment have created a Foreclosure Flashlight website, tracking the campaign contributions that legislators have received from the mortgage industry. Vargas has received close to $100,000 from mortgage companies, according to the site.
San Diego County has been hit with over 140,000 foreclosures since 2008, totaling $327 million in lost tax revenue. According to the real estate information company, Realtytrac, California ranked 3rd amongst all states in total foreclosures. In Chula Vista alone, 1 in every 237 housing units has received a foreclosure notice over the past several months. A separate study released last Friday by the California Reinvestment Coalition found numerous examples of banks failing to comply with policies and programs that would help homeowners avoid foreclosure. It gets worse. A study released by assessor-recorder Phil Ting found that 84 percent of all foreclosed loans in California contained legal errors that would go unchecked without this legislation.
The fate of the bill now rests in a joint committee that will meet later this week. Senator Vargas will be among six lawmakers in the committee, which will shoulder the blame should the bill be gutted, or worse, fails to pass.
For her part, Ducheny authored SB 931, a bill that prohibits lenders from pursuing a deficiency judgment in cases of lender approved short sales for less than the amount owed. The bill was signed into law in 2010.