Attorney General’s office to investigate dismissals
Article Courtesy of The St.
By Janet Zink
Published August 5, 2011
TALLAHASSEE -- Facing
criticism over the forced resignations of two attorneys leading
foreclosure fraud investigations, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
said Tuesday she will appoint an independent inspector general to
examine the dismissals.
Bondi said the two were let go from their jobs in
the Fort Lauderdale economic crimes office because of poor job
performance and not for political reasons, as critics have claimed.
But Bondi said she has questions about
documentation of the decision made by her top staff members.
“I want to do everything I can to make this the
best office in this country, and I do have questions as to
documentation,” she said.
At issue are the departures of lawyers June
Clarkson and Theresa Edwards, who led foreclosure fraud investigations
under former Attorney General Bill McCollum.
Clarkson and Edwards were forced to resign in late
March by top staff in Bondi’s office. The pair had received positive
job evaluations from McCollum.
The move prompted state Rep. Darren Soto, a
Democrat from Orlando, to demand all records from the Republican
attorney general relating to the resignations. Soto said the
“terminations present an overwhelming public concern” in a state
ravaged by foreclosure fraud.
Progress Florida, a liberal advocacy group based
in St. Petersburg, accused Bondi of being beholden to the financial
industry and began circulating a petition calling for an investigation.
Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida, said more than
6,000 Floridians have signed the petition.
“We clearly felt there was enough smoke here to
warrant looking for a fire. We’re glad to hear there’s going to be
an independent investigation,” he said.
Edwards said the appointment of an inspector
general is a step in the right direction.
“We just hope it will really be someone
independent,” she said. “If they are they’ll see that what appears
happened, actually happened. We were fired without cause.”