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Mizeur: Opponents Ineffectual On Foreclosure Help

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Del. Heather Mizeur said Tuesday that her opponents are not serious about helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.

At a news conference, she urged Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler to work with her on passing a new bill to help ease the state’s foreclosure rate.

Gansler has trumpeted his efforts in the area, but last week Brown’s campaign portrayed them as ineffectual and noted that Maryland’s foreclosure rate became the third highest in the U.S. last year.

Mizeur, D-Montgomery, waded into the fray by pointing out that Brown was in office at the time of the increase.

“The hubris to produce an attack ad on the foreclosure crisis without offering any proposed solutions demonstrates the lieutenant governor’s belief that he is untouchable behind the walls of Annapolis’s insular and out-of-touch establishment,” she said.

Lenders completed 6,277 foreclosures in Maryland during 2013, a spokeswoman from the data service RealtyTrac said. Foreclosure starts last year jumped by 126 percent, the sharpest increase in any state, RealtyTrac reported.

The legislation Mizeur filed last week would prevent banks from seeking deficiency judgments, which are used to garnish the wages of borrowers who default when lenders can’t sell a their assets for the full amount owed.

Mizeur said deficiency judgments let banks go back on their settlements with these borrowers.

The bill, which is awaiting judgment from the House Environmental Matters Committee, also prohibits a banking practice she says makes it harder for borrowers to identify who owns their mortgages.

As attorney general, Gansler participated in the National Mortgage Settlement, which resulted in five major banks paying more than $50 billion to consumers. Maryland families have received more than $1.3 billion in mortgage modifications, reductions, waivers and other benefits, according to an announcement Gansler published last year.

Gansler said thousands of families managed to stay in their homes as a result.

Brown’s ad shows video of Gansler discussing this achievement. Afterward text flashes across the screen: “Since the National Mortgage Settlement, Maryland’s foreclosure rate has risen to the 3rd highest in the country. Last year 5,400 Maryland families lost their homes. Does Doug Gansler think that’s progress?”

Brown’s campaign manager said Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration has pushed through several major foreclosure-related bills during Brown’s tenure as lieutenant governor. Justin Schall mentioned the emergency relief bills passed in 2008 and the mediation bill from 2010. Mizeur voted for them all.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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