Palling Around With Robo-Signing Law Firms Is Not Just A GOP Thing Anymore
Since MFI-Miami began exposing Robo-signing by Michigan foreclosure mills eighteen months ago, one law firm has managed to stay off the radar until now and the managing partner of that firm has a sister who is a Democratic state Representative who sits on the committee overseeing foreclosure legislation.
MFI-Miami has discovered multiple affidavits and mortgage assignments dated from April 2010 through May 2011 from multiple Register of Deeds offices throughout Michigan, that bear the signature by Jason Canvasser, a Michigan attorney who once worked at the law firm of Randall S. Miller and Associates in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. On June 6, 2012, nearly three weeks after this article originally appeared, Jason Canvasser’s attorney has confirmed these documents “bear his signature” and claims Jason Canvasser has never been engaged in Robo-signing.
Randall S. Miller and Associates is one of the largest foreclosure mills in the country and they handle foreclosures in California, Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota. Jason Canvasser left Randall S. Miller and Associates in July of 2011 is now with Kupelian Ormond & Magy, P.C., a commercial litigation firm. As you can see, the signatures appear to be very different and the pattern seems to fit the typical foreclosure mill robo-signing business model.
Miller’s law firm has been able to stay off the MFI-Miami radar when it comes to robo-signing because except for Michigan, Miller’s firm does business in three states MFI-Miami does very little or no business unlike Trott & Trott or Orlans.
Unlike robo-signing foreclosure mills, Miller’s firm has been relatively low key about their political contributions and connections. Linda Orlans, who as the President of the Michigan Chapter of the Koch Brothers’ faux non-profit, Americans for Prosperity lavishes money on GOP candidates and has entertained high dollar fundraisers for Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson at her $4 million mansion in suburban Detroit. David Trott is currently the Michigan Finance Chair for GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Trott, his wife, and his staff have given nearly $25,000 to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. Together Orlans and Trott have raised nearly $250,000 for both Johnson, Schuette and the Michigan Republican Party.
Miller doesn’t need to throw money around like Rich Uncle Moneybags to have an impact on legislation. He has an ace-in-the-hole that he’s been able to keep pretty quiet about until now. Miller’s sister is Michigan State Representative Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield) who currently sits on the Michigan House Judiciary Committee. The same committee that debates and approves foreclosure-related legislation before it goes to the full Michigan House of Representatives. Last year, during the debate to change Michigan’s foreclosure laws we heard nothing from Brown or the Democratic caucus who sat and did what the GOP majority told them to do.
Ready For Prime Time?
Last month, Brown announced because of redistricting, she was not seeking a third and final term in the Michigan House and has instead decided to run for Oakland County Register of Deeds against Republican Bill Bullard, a career politician who was appointed to the position in January of last year when Ruth Johnson was elected Michigan Secretary of State. In her announcement last month she attacked Bullard by saying,
“It’s clearly a problem that Bill Bullard takes his role as a Republican political operative more seriously than serving the public as clerk.”
Brown’s legislative performance could be seen by many as lackluster. She steered away from controversial issues. She has campaigned on issues her constituents wanted to hear. She also voted the way her party leadership told her to. Bullard as also done the same thing for almost 30 years as a County Commissioner, State Representative, and State Senator.
Brown has also had her share of being a “political operative”. In 2010, she took campaign contributions from two people involved in the voter fraud scandal that rocked the Oakland County Democratic Party. As Bullard pointed out in the same article:
“One of the most important jobs of the Oakland County Clerk is to safeguard honest and fair elections. I think Representative Brown should show her commitment to election integrity by first returning the campaign donations she received in the past,”
The mortgage crisis that has had Michigan homeowners in a financial Anaconda Vice Grip since 2006 has also been very rewarding to Brown because she has been able to profit from both sides of the fight. Her brother has given handsomely to her three legislative campaigns and her husband Brian Parker is a consumer lawyer currently doing foreclosure defense.
The question should be, is Lisa Brown ready for prime time? Running for the Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds office is like running a congressional campaign and she’s trying to do it against a seasoned veteran of Oakland County politics who has held one office or another in Oakland County since Brown was in elementary school in the 1970s.
County Register of Deeds in Michigan has traditionally been where aging politicians go as their political careers wind down. That all changed with the financial crisis and has now become one of the most important elected offices in the state. As Ingham County Register Curtis Hertel, Jr. has shown, the job actually does require leadership and political skill. Unfortunately, Lisa Brown in her four years in Lansing has shown she’s a follower.
Her brother, the foreclosure mill operator also creates an issue. If she gets elected Register of Deeds and forged documents are discovered to have been filed in Oakland County by her brother’s firm will she take it to the prosecutor?
Her platform so far has been to attack the Bullard on an issue only the elites in the Michigan Democratic Party and the Oakland County Democratic Party seem to care about. That issue is the shrinking and redistricting of the Oakland County Commission. This is an issue most Oakland County residents don’t know or care about and she manages to get smacked down by Bill Bullard over it.
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