One Tin Soldier

Posted July 27th, 2008 by Joe Kaiser

Unbridled advocacy in the hands of out-of-control AAG's is a dangerous thing, particularly when they're willing to bend the rules and worse, believe those rules apply to everyone but them.

Dear Rob,

I’m tuned in to a belief system I previously was not aware of.

Sure, I’d seen signs of it in the past, but until dealing your office, I had no understanding of how deep these twisted beliefs run and how far these likewise twisted advocates will go in the name of consumer protectionism.

When there’s no hesitancy to do whatever it takes because the end justifies the means, destroying businesses with whom they disagree becomes just another day at the office.


God is on our side

“Do it in the name of heaven, justify it in the end?”One Tin Soldier
written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter
and featured in the 1971 movie, Billy Jack

Ditto for consumer protectionism, apparently.

How else do you explain AAG’s who have no problem saying or doing whatever needs to be said or done in order to get their point across?

Case in point?

AAG Jim Sugarman testified before the state Senate about foreclosure rescue scams in an effort to get your new foreclosure rescue bill passed. Here’s the video of his performance (we’ll be using it throughout this post) . . .

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

I’ve marked the times so you can easily view the action, starting with Jim’s statement that . . .

Now that foreclosures have gone up 70%, it’s a thriving industry . . .— AAG James Sugarman
Consumer Protection Division
(at the 00:23 mark)

Jim says the sale/lease-back scam is “a thriving industry.” I suggest four complaints in five years indicates the problem is virtually non-existent (there have been approximately 100,000 foreclosures in our state during that same time).

But, Jim is on a mission here, trying to get a law passed, and is willing to say or do whatever needs to be said or done. And, if characterizing a non-existent problem as a “thriving industry,” is what it takes to get that done, why not?

He’s a consumer protection advocate, after all, and that makes it okay, apparently.


At their mercy

Jim continues . . .

In these circumstances the normal rules of the market place do not apply. You have an investor who knows everything about the seller . . . they have to make this transaction work so they’re at their mercy . . . — AAG James Sugarman
Consumer Protection Division
(at the 01:47 mark)

Suggesting sellers are at our mercy is about what I’d expect from Jim. Obviously, he’s never done a deal with anyone in foreclosure because if he had, he’d know nothing could be further from the truth.

I make proposals to sellers and if acceptable, we get things handled. If not, we move on. Telling the Legislature sellers are powerless or under our control and will do something they choose not to do is a fantasy.

Clearly, what happens in the real foreclosure world has little or no bearing on Jim’s testimony.


Buy back Jack

Jim continues, letting the legislature know the AG’s office is litigating against investors who are signing up scam deals and marketing them to other investors, telling them not to worry about the seller buying the property back because . . .

. . . they will never be able to buy the property back, it’s designed to fail. — AAG James Sugarman
Consumer Protection Division
(at the 02:46 mark)

Hmmm, that’s interesting and news to me.

I’m unaware of the AG’s office litigating against any investor other than me. Of course, I may be wrong, but one would think you’d be issuing press releases if there were others, Rob.

And if there are no other investors currently in litigation with your office, Rob, would it be fair to say Jim is just making this stuff up?

And if he is just making it all up, why?

Was it really so important to get this law passed that your office was willing to distort the facts to give the appearance it was urgently needed?


Legitimate Businesses

Brian Weinstein asks, “are there any legitimate businesses that do do these sale/lease-backs and actually do sell them back?”

Jim’s response . . .

I’ve never seen a legitimate sale/lease-back . . . — AAG James Sugarman
Consumer Protection Division
(at the 03:10 mark)

Since we’ve done 30 of them, and since they’re all humming along fine, and since more than a couple have bought us out and have no problem telling your office how well they’ve worked, for Jim to say he’s never seen one succeed is another example of his willingness to make up whatever he feels he needs to say to get his point across.

But, not withstanding it’s a complete fabrication . . . that’s okay, apparently, because he works for the Consumer Protection Division where that sort of thing is considered business as usual.


It’s not working

Jim is next asked about the 82% thing, and since we’ve discussed this recently, I won’t go into it other than point out the obviously unsupported-by-the-facts statement he makes about it . . .

It’s working, so we figured we ought to do it that way. — AAG James Sugarman
Consumer Protection Division
(at the 04:27 mark)

Telling the Legislature it’s working in Minnesota is an example of either Jim’s ignorance . . . or his willingness to lie about the success of Minnesota’s 2004 foreclosure law. It’s not working. It’s never worked. And anywhere it’s been implemented it’s been proven to be a disaster.


Tax Foreclosure Sales

Jim talks about the other legislation and says it does not apply to tax foreclosure sales, saying . . .

. . . we have found that there are quite a few perpetrators on that side of the equation as well. — AAG James Sugarman
Consumer Protection Division
(at the 05:40 mark)

I’ll have to ask about this via a public records request because I seriously doubt your office has found “quite a few perpetrators in the tax foreclosure sale arena.” I’m willing to bet it amounts to me and my former partners and that’s about it.

But, far better to mislead the Legislature into believing it’s a big problem that must be brought under control, I guess.


No contradiction

Rob, your video about the new law is posted here at Pushed to Shove in the post entitled The Fix Is In (it’s the last video).

In it you say, “The state Senate added in a lot of language that we never intended and that we actively opposed with our friends in the realtor community.”

I guess the video we’re featuring today must be a fake because here’s Jim “actively” opposing its inclusion (beginning at the 06:00 mark and running for a full minute and a half) and ending with . . .

. . . that’s about all I have . . . — AAG James Sugarman
Consumer Protection Division

And in the minute and a half we can see AAG Jim Sugarman never saying a single word that in any way “opposed” the addition of the new language. In fact, he confirms it doesn’t “contradict” and that both bills could harmoniously co-exist as your new law.

Frankly, I’m certain Jim and your office were delighted with the additional language, knowing it made it that much more difficult for investors to deal with homeowners in trouble.


Over Zealous

Unbridled advocacy in the hands of out-of-control AAG’s is a dangerous thing, particularly when they’re willing to bend the rules and worse, believe the rules apply to everyone but them.

Allowing Jim Sugarman to make up whatever he wants, and likewise, to have you now point the finger at Sen. Brian Weinstein when it’s clear your office was and is 100% responsible for the mess we’re in today, is unacceptable.

If there is anyone to be blamed, Rob, it’s you and your office for operating under the outrageous belief that because you work to protect consumers, it’s okay for you to lie to get your way.

It’s not.

And operating under the mistaken believe you answer to a higher calling (do it in the name of consumer protectionism, you can justify it in the end), and that the end somehow justifies it is nonsense.

You don’t and it doesn’t.

It only means you can’t be trusted.

In the arena,

Joe Kaiser


8 Responses to: “One Tin Soldier”

  1. Brad Crouch responds:
    Posted: July 27th, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Joe,

    Would it be possible, after you receive an answer to your public records request, to forward a copy of this answer to all of the State Senators?

    This should discredit the Attorney General’s office, or at least Jim Sugarman, and relieve them of any future credibility.

    Think about it, would you?

    Brad

  2. Drew Hitt responds:
    Posted: July 27th, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Joe,

    I want to see you show up at one of these hearings, it would make for a great video clip!

  3. Joe Kaiser responds:
    Posted: July 27th, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Drew, why do I think that particular clip would end with me saying, “Don’t tase me bro!”?

  4. Drew Hitt responds:
    Posted: July 28th, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    Joe,

    HAHAHHAHAHHAHA, you’d be a Youtube sensation! You know viral marketing gets attention quick…if you get desparate for free advertising it might be worth the risk. Getting tazed doesn’t hurt that bad….gotta look at the upside!

    Drew

  5. DaveD responds:
    Posted: July 29th, 2008 at 6:26 am

    I remember the movie well… the fight scenes were the best!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQWCAVzM384

  6. David Alexander responds:
    Posted: August 3rd, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Joe,

    They want to call you out for taking advantage and profiting from the foreclosures with people…. saying it’s a scam…

    Maybe they need to read the latest legislation from washington…
    That Bush jsut signed.

    H.R. 3221 Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008

    In it they are going to refinance folks that are about to head to foreclosure and need to do a short sale transaction and the agreement the homeowner has to sign says… that they must partner with the federal government on any future appreciation….

    Who’s taking advantage…..

    Looks like good ole uncle sam and the federal reserve want there piece of the action as well….

    We’ll save you if you give us half….. of any future equity you make…

    So, why is that different… ??

  7. Chris responds:
    Posted: August 7th, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Found a quote from Rob in the news this week from the USA today. Last paragraph includes:

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-08-04-foreclosure-scams_N.htm

    “We’re not trying to outlaw rescues altogether … but we needed to make improvements in consumer protection,” state Attorney General Rob McKenna says.

    Really Rob?

  8. Leon responds:
    Posted: August 15th, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    News Flash!

    Donald Trump scams Ed McMahon out of his house while in foreclosure and leases it back to him.

    Joe I’m not sure exactly what’s going on and what it is they are accusing you of but I thought it had something to do with buying houses in foreclosure and leasing it back to the former owners.

    I’m confused. You get sued and the Donald makes headline news for doing it.


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