The office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has pushed back against claims by community activists that the Obama administration's Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group – which Schneiderman co-chairs – has done nothing since it was formed in January.
In an interview that appeared in George Zornick's blog in the online edition of The Nation, a spokesperson for Schneiderman's office claimed that the task force – which was set up to investigate malfeasance in the residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market – currently consists of 50 attorneys, investigators and analysts around the country, and that more people will be hired in the near future.
‘Given most investigatory matters are privileged and confidential, it is simply premature to draw conclusions about the working group's scope and scale of inquiry,’ said Danny Kanner, Schneiderman's spokesperson. ‘Op-eds and email appeals from activists, while important contributions to the dialogue, do not constitute fact.’
Kanner, however, did not specifically address charges made by Mike Gecan and Arnie Graf, co-directors of the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation, in a New York Daily News opinion column that the U.S. Justice Department was unable to connect them with any staff member associated with the task force.
‘Calls to the Justice Department's switchboard requesting to be connected with the working group produced the answer, 'I really don't know where to send you,'’ wrote Gecan and Graf. ‘After being transferred to the attorney general's office and asking for a phone number for the working group, the answer was, 'I'm not aware of one.'’
Zornick, in his blog, confirmed Gecan and Graf's statement that the working group does not have an executive director. Zornik also cited an unnamed Justice Department official who said that there would be ‘specific staffing announcements in the near future’ in connection with the working group.