Porter’s office is silent.
Politico reported that Rep. Katie Porter, who wants to take over Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat, erased her job as a consultant for Ocwen Financial Corporation:
But in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, a major industry player turned to her for advice.
Porter was hired in 2015 as a consultant for Ocwen Financial Corporation, a large mortgage loan servicing provider that faced multibillion-dollar fines and penalties for deceiving homeowners. Her stint in the corporate world came shortly after she oversaw the national mortgage settlement as the state’s independent monitor and before she made her first run for Congress.
Is it a big deal?
Well, Porter became a progressive sensation for going after the big banks and corporate interests.
It gets stickier because one Porter aide said Ocwen hired her “to advise the company in its communication with customers and did not lobby or interact with regulators.”
Nathan Click, Porter’s senior adviser, told Politico that Ocwen hired her for similar “work she did as California’s monitor during the mortgage settlement, such as ‘translating the banks’ mumbo jumbo about eligibility into a clear consumer-facing tool.'”
Ocwen wouldn’t provide comment because “the company can’t share the existence or scope of its consulting contracts.”
Porter’s entanglement with consumer protection and mortgages began in 2008. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s protege and former student became the national go-to person:
Before taking the job with Ocwen, Porter had established herself as a national authority on consumer protection. A protégé and former law student of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Porter testified to Congress in 2008 about how mortgage servicers were taking advantage of struggling homeowners. Such firms, Porter said at the time, lacked incentives to obey the law and to charge consumers only what they owed. Porter added she was concerned about millions of families whose debts were being collected by the likes of Ocwen and other firms whose representatives weren’t present at the May 2008 hearing.
Nearly four years later, Harris announced the appointment of Porter as California’s monitor after the big banks committed billions in homeowner and borrower benefits in the state. Harris at the time described Porter’s role as central to ensuring that hundreds of thousands of Californains benefited from the banks’ settlement.
During her time as the monitor, Porter stated in a Wall Street Journal interview “that the settlements and subsequent changes undoubtedly improved industry practices.” She insisted the banking industry remained incompetent due to a lack of technology and a common platform.
Politico wrote that Porter included the Wall Street Journal in the resume with the Ocwen job.
Porter stopped working as a monitor in 2014. Ocwen hired her in 2015:
Ocwen in 2013 settled with California and 48 other states for $2.1 billion stemming from allegations that between 2009 and 2012 the company deceived homeowners and engaged in robo-signing and other misconduct. At the time of that settlement, Ocwen held about 6 percent of all California underwater loans, and Porter was working as the state’s independent monitor appointed by then-Attorney General Kamala Harris to oversee the larger, $20-billion mortgage settlement with five major banks. The Ocwen settlement was finalized in 2014, while Porter was still with the state.
In 2015, she accepted the consulting role for the company while teaching at UC Irvine. The work lasted less than six months, Click said, adding that Ocwen was the only financial firm that Porter worked for. It represents an unexplored time in the career of an official who is known for her candor.
Porter’s aides also wouldn’t provide specifics about the nature of the relationship between her and Ocwen. How did it start? Why did it end?
UC-Irvine told Politico it cannot get back to the publication until late August regarding questions about “Porter’s conflict-of-interest disclosure forms required by university policy.”
If Porter’s consulting job was only to help improve Ocwen’s communications and make it competent, then why erase it from the resume and remain secretive? Politico found the job remained on an older version of the resume, but it does not appear on the resume published three months during the first three months of her Congressional campaign in 2017:
Porter between 2018 and 2020 also received $2,250 in contributions to her House campaign committee from Phyllis Caldwell and Jill Showell. Caldwell, a director, chaired Ocwen’s Board of Directors from March 2016 to January 2023 while Showell served as senior vice president of government and community relations at Ocwen. Neither responded to inquiries.
Something fishy is going on here. You’d think someone who helped improve a big bank’s communications and dealings with customers would boast about it, especially someone who hates big banks.DONATE
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