Ferrandino calls out Gardner on foreclosure legislation claims

State Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, is questioning whether state Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, is telling the whole story when it comes to his support of foreclosure legislation.

Rep. Cory Gardner

Ferrandino said Gardner, the GOP candidate for the 4th Congressional District seat currently held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey, has a voting past that reveals spotty representation for those undergoing financial woes despite what Gardner’s website asserts. Gardner’s campaign failed to respond to repeated requests for comment.

Gardner’s campaign website touts his work on foreclosure legislation during his term as a state lawmaker. It states under his biography that Gardner “…worked to increase community college funding, bring state-of-the-art telemedicine to rural communities, and protect homeowners facing foreclosure.”

However, Ferrandino told the Colorado Independent he remembers a different Gardner than is portrayed on the website, one who did not vote to help those facing foreclosure.

“I hope he is not saying that he is a strong proponent of consumer protection and helping out people…. He has been on the side of deregulating financial institutions and not doing the proper protections to help those in foreclosure,” Ferrandino said. “I don’t remember him voting for any. He voted against my bills.”

Ferrandino said he is referring to HB 1276 in 2009 and HB 1402 in 2008, which he and Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, sponsored, along with other Democrats. Ferrandino said both those bills specifically target borrowers in serious danger of losing their homes.

According to legislative records, Gardner voted against both bills.

HB 1276 allowed homeowners to defer foreclosure proceeding for 90 days if it was determined they could take part in a federal loan deferment program.

HB 1402 stipulated that individuals entering into foreclosure were to be sent a notice that informed them of the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline 30 days prior to filing a notice of election and demand with a public trustee. The bill a year later worked in tandem with Ferrandino’s HB 1276 legislation in helping to provide resources to inform those undergoing foreclosure of their options.

While it is unclear on what bills Gardner rests his claims, Ferrandino said the pieces of legislation Gardner voted for directly affecting foreclosures were little more than cleanup bills.

HB 1240 in 2010, for example, amended Ferrandino’s 90-day extension bill to ensure that in cases where borrowers elected not to take part in a federal loan program banks were notified by mortgage counselors that they could continue the foreclosure proceedings. It further ensured that after 90 days if no notice of deferral was received, loan holders could resume the foreclosure. It also required that the foreclosure notice to borrowers not be issued before all paper work is finalized.

Gardner also voted for a HB 1109 in 2009, a bill that changed the definition of foreclosure in Colorado by extending foreclosure protections to encompass residential properties that are 30 days delinquent or that have payments in default. Ferrandino said while the bill legally provided some extended protections, practically it was codifying common practice into law. “What bank doesn’t allow for a 30-day grace period?” Ferrandino said.

Gardner’s lone piece of sponsored legislation dealing with foreclosure was the result of collaboration with former Democratic Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, that fixed the concerns of the public trustees with HB 1402, according to an article by the Denver Business Journal.

From the Denver Business Journal:

“Gardner said the bill will ‘clean up’ a bill approved by last year’s Legislature that was intended to give homeowners facing foreclosure more information about their options.

“Gardner said the trustees and deed holders are confused about the new foreclosure laws and this bill is an attempt to make them clearer.”

Ferrandino said that bill was simply house cleaning and didn’t constitute protections for homeowners.

Yet despite the seeming paucity of people-first legislation in recent years, Gardner did vote for legislation in 2007 that arguably kept people from purchasing properties and entering into mortgages that might later see them falling into foreclosure, hurting both themselves and financial institutions that provided the loans.

As Colorado’s foreclosure rate soared in 2007, Gardner voted for legislation packaged by Gov. Bill Ritter as preventing foreclosure by regulating the real estate and mortgage industries. Those votes were substantial if also piecemeal.

Gardner voted for a bill that put into Colorado statutes a code of ethics for mortgage brokers and one that created new rules for realtors prohibiting them from working with appraisers to furnish targeted appraisals that helped put buyers in risky mortgages.

Despite those overtures to regulation, Gardner did not vote for another bill in Ritter’s package. That bill, SB 203, ultimately forced state mortgage brokers to be licensed by Colorado.

In the CD4 race with Markey, individual donations from the law firm of Castle, Meinhold & Stawiarski currently constitute the top contributions to Gardner’s campaign at $28,950. The firm earned headlines during the mortgage crisis in the Denver Post as one of the top foreclosure firms for loan holding institutions in the state.

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Joseph Boven

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