The Washington Post reports that David H. Stevens will be taking over as head of the Mortgage Bankers Association. Stevens currently serves as Assistant Secretary for Housing in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and as the Commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration. He has a conflict of interest so deep that he should be fired at once.
Here is how HUD describes his duties:
Commissioner Stevens has direct responsibility for oversight and administration of the FHA insurance portfolio, which includes multifamily housing, insured health care facilities and well over 20 percent of mortgages in the domestic single family market. Stevens also has responsibility for other programs within HUD, such the regulatory areas of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Secure and Fair Enforcement Mortgage Licensing (SAFE) Act.
Before joining HUD, he worked for Wells Fargo and Freddie Mac, and was CEO of the nation’s largest private real estate firm. He announced his departure last week, saying that he had not accepted any job offers. The reporter, Dina Elboghdady, tells us that he is consulting with HUD lawyers to make sure he follows ethics rules.
His current duties include working on a settlement with the mortgage servicing companies to absolve them of their fraudulent conduct in dealing with American homeowners. The Mortgage Bankers Association represents mortgage originators, like Bank of America and Wells Fargo. These companies own most of the largest mortgage servicers. This is from the Mortgage Bankers Association website:
Make no mistake about it; we are an organization dedicated to helping our members do their business. We actively advocate for our members, and have done so for nearly a century. We have seen the real estate finance industry evolve into one of the strongest and most sophisticated of global markets.
Allowing Stevens to stay on the job, and saying that it comports with ethics rules, is proof that the term “ethics” has lost all meaning. He is working on a settlement that in some news stories calls for a penalty of $20 billion, which only banksters think bears any relationship to the horrifying damage caused by these sharks, through jacked-up fees, fraudulent court filings, dual-track loan modifications and other sleazy tricks played on suffering homeowners. He comes from the industry, and is heading to the group that put out slimy reports condemning any steps that might aid homeowners, including judicial modification of mortgages in bankruptcy.
Why is he not immediately fired for cause? President Obama can’t even use his standard excuse, that we should look forward, not at the past. I’m looking forward, and I see a totally compromised person negotiating the future of millions of Americans.
And when he gets fired, terminate his health insurance immediately.
Update: This post was communicated directly to Mr. Stevens by a reader. He doesn’t seem to see how other people might worry about actual conflicts of interest. And I failed to note the sterling reputation he has with the bank-friendly Wall Street Journal.