Eric Schneiderman: The Head of the Financial Crimes Unit.(YES!)

Last night’s presidential address was all about the state of our great nation, but New Yorkers got a nod with the announcement that our very own attorney general will head a new task force charged with investigating abusive lending and risky mortgages. You know, all that fun stuff that led to the housing crisis and destroyed our economy…

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will chair the new unit, which Barack Obama discussed in his speech last night, saying the group will target Wall Street and the big, bad banks and mortgage lenders that messed everything up for the rest of us.

“This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans,” he said.

A task that big requires a New Yorker like Schneiderman, who was formerly a state senator representing the Upper West Side before he became the state’s top law enforcement officer.

The Huffington Post first broke the news yesterday, reporting that the unit will operate as part of the president’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.

It’s a big move for progressives and for Schneiderman who, as HuffPo noted, was a critic of the proposed settlement between the 50 state attorney generals and the five largest banks. Schneiderman attended the speech last night.

The AG last night tweeted some words of thanks to the president, saying, “Would like to thank @whitehouse @TheJusticeDept for creating a joint investigation to bring justice for victims of the mortgage crisis.” Shortly after that, he tweeted, “America deserves a robust & comprehensive investigation into the financial meltdown to ensure justice and accountability” and “We will continue our steadfast commitment to hold those responsible for the economic crisis accountable/bring justice for homeowners.”

After Obama announced this, some emails and tweets popped up on Runnin’ Scared’s radar, a lot of them cheering on Schneiderman.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who plans to run for mayor, sent out a response statement to the speech focused on the news of our attorney general’s new hat.

“Tonight, predatory lenders and other bad actors were put on notice when New York’s own Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was appointed by President Barack Obama to head a new special unit tasked to investigate misconduct and illegal behavior that led to the ongoing mortgage crisis facing our country,”he said.

“Eric’s deeply held values and unabashed dedication to giving people a voice and the strength to stand up to powerful interests are what set him apart. Struggling homeowners can find peace of mind knowing Eric Schneiderman is on the case and fighting for them,” he said.

City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who has been a big Occupy Wall Street supporter, also tweeted some kind words for Schneiderman, saying, #Congrats to @AGSchneiderman, who @BarackObama announced in the #StateoftheUnion as chair of the new #MortgageCrisis Unit. #Greatchoice!

In his speech, Obama also said that the Financial Crimes Unit would be staffed by “highly trained investigators to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people’s investments.”

Which inspired this tweet that grabbed our attention, from filmaker Michael Moore: “”We are starting a financial crimes unit.” Occupy Wall Street, take a bow. #ows”.


Or as one person puts it:

“I feel the biggest ideas came out of what the Executive Branch is doing, like reorganizing itself to consolidate agencies, or using public land and the US navy for clean energy generation. But most of all, there was at least one very big thing slipped in there that I don’t think a lot of people noticed except those who are most paying attention:

And tonight, I am asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.You want big ideas? How about resolving the cause of the financial crisis that got us here? The loom of a wholly inadequate bank settlement to release bankers and lenders from any criminal liability has caused deep anxiety and betrayal among those whose homes have wobbled around foreclosure for years. Eric Schneiderman, New York Attorney General, has been hugely critical of the proposed settlement and walked away from negotiations, demanding a larger and more in-depth investigation. So who did the President decide to head a larger investigation?

New York AG Eric Schneiderman, granting immediate credibility to the unit.”


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