Three cheers for Deval Patrick for doing the right thing on Ameriquest. If you’re on his mailing list you’ve probably already seen this, but just in case, here is Patrick’s just-released statement on the Ameriquest settlement and his role in it:
I also want to let you know about an important issue. A few days ago, Ameriquest Mortgage Company and the attorneys general of 49 states announced a settlement of serious unfair lending claims. I had a central role in getting this result.
The settlement is very good news for consumers throughout the country. In the words of Tom Miller of Iowa , the lead Attorney General on the negotiating team, “This is a landmark agreement that will change Ameriquest’s practices, and it will set standards we expect other mortgage lenders to follow.” Massachusetts Banking Commissioner Steven L. Antonakes declared that the settlement “will result in even greater protections for consumers.”
That’s true. The agreement raises the bar for lending practices across the industry. That is a very good thing, because sub-prime lending is the fastest growing sector of the lending market. They lend to the people the big banks won’t touch.
I am proud to have been a part of the solution. I joined the board of ACC Capital Holdings, the parent company of Ameriquest, in mid-2004, after the attorneys general investigations were already underway. I was asked to join largely because of those investigations.
I am no newcomer to fair lending enforcement. My involvement in these issues goes back to leading the charge against predatory lending in Massachusetts more than a decade ago on behalf of elderly Black borrowers. In the Justice Department I led the most far-reaching fair lending enforcement program in American history. In fact, when I was there we took on the predecessor company of Ameriquest itself. I know what rigorous oversight and enlightened practices can do to put the dream of homeownership within reach of more people.
I brought that experience and commitment to the Board of ACC Capital Holdings. I serve as the Board’s point person for the company’s ongoing efforts to improve its oversight and internal controls. I was briefed by the negotiating team regularly, and helped guide the company to an effective and practical result. This week’s settlement makes Ameriquest — and the entire industry — better.
Sometimes, to solve a problem, you have to be willing to get your hands dirty, to get into how and why a problem arises as a path to getting to the best solution. I was taught that getting involved is a more effective way to fix a problem than standing on the sidelines. When you choose me as Governor, you ought to know you are getting a leader who is ready to roll up his sleeves.
This is exactly the kind of statement I’ve been hoping Patrick would issue. He tells us why he joined the board of Ameriquest’s parent company. He tells us why it’s a good thing that sub-prime lenders exist, as long as they play fair. He tells us about his long, honorable history of working to ensure that all Americans have the dream of home ownership within their reach. And he tells us why he’s proud of what he accomplished in this matter. Good for him.