News Release

Kamala Harris’ Claims About Her Record on Big Banks “Doesn’t Withstand a Moment’s Scrutiny”

Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California and 2020 presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign stop in Ankeny, Iowa, U.S., on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Harris is one of six women running for the Democratic nomination to become the first female to hold the highest office in the nation. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesDAVID DAYEN, david.dayen at gmail.com, @ddayen

Dayen is executive editor of The American Prospect and author of Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street’s Great Foreclosure Fraud.

Sen. Kamala Harris recently claimed: “I took on successfully and I prosecuted the big banks when they preyed on homeowners.”

Dayen said today: “Kamala Harris’s role in the failed attempt to hold banks accountable for stealing homes from families during the foreclosure crisis was no more or less tragic than that of many other officials. But now that she’s running for president, Harris is not only eliding responsibility for her part in the failure, but claiming it as an outright success. That claim doesn’t withstand a moment’s scrutiny.

“Equating a toothless settlement with a sufficient penalty for criminal fraud sets a meager baseline for what constitutes punishment, virtually ensuring subsequent crimes. If we will ever dismantle a system that delivers one set of laws for the powerful and another for everybody else, we must be honest about the glaring inadequacies of the past.”

Dayen wrote the piece “Kamala Harris Celebrates Her Role in the Mortgage Crisis Settlement. The Reality Is Quite Different,” earlier this year for The Intercept which states: “Harris initiated a ‘mortgage strike force’ to prosecute individuals, but it only brought a handful of cases, and the ones her campaign touts as triumphs were against penny-ante ‘foreclosure rescue’ scams, not the bankers who maneuvered homeowners into foreclosure in the first place. Harris passed up the opportunity to charge OneWest Bank, then chaired by current Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, with what her own investigators called ‘widespread misconduct’ in state foreclosure cases.

“Overall, the national mortgage settlement was a blight on this country, a tragic missed opportunity to rebalance the unfair burden thrown on homeowners for a financial crisis they did not cause. The architects of the settlement should be embarrassed by the very mention of it. If this is what we hold up as justice, then we have none.”