Illinois Attorney General Sues Standard & Poor’s
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit in January against the financial services company Standard & Poor’s. In the lawsuit, Madigan alleges that Standard & Poor’s “compromised its independence as a ratings agency by doling out high ratings to unworthy, risky investments as a corporate strategy to increase its revenue and market share.”
The lawsuit cites internal emails and conversations between Standard & Poor’s employees that demonstrate the company misrepresented its ratings, according to a press release from Madigan’s office. It also cites congressional testimony by a former Standard & Poor’s employee who revealed that “profits were running the show” leading up to the housing market crash.
“S&P abandoned its principles and instead used every trick possible to give deals high ratings in order to retain clients and generate revenue,” said Madigan. “The mortgage-backed securities that helped our market soar—and ultimately crash—could not have been purchased by most investors without S&P’s seal of approval.”
The lawsuit is one part of the attorney general’s efforts to hold lenders accountable for their actions. During her time in office, Madigan has won larges settlements against lenders.
In 2008, she reached a $39.5 million settlement with Wells Fargo over misleading marketing of risky loans. That same year, Madigan led a lawsuit against Countrywide for its lending practices, which resulted in a nationwide $8.7 billion settlement.
Madigan and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a $335 million settlement in December 2011 with Countrywide in a case alleging discrimination against Illinois borrowers of color. It is the largest settlement of a fair lending lawsuit ever obtained by a state attorney general, according to Madigan’s office.
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced in January that the Governor’s Office of Economic Development helped to create more than 3,000 jobs in 2011. Daugaard said the office helped 61 businesses either establish themselves or expand their operations in the state, The Associated Press reported. According to Daugaard and state Economic Development Commissioner J. Pat Costello, the agency provided grants to companies to help train workers, which increased their earning potential.
The Michigan State Board of Canvassers in January approved the language of two ballot initiatives to amend the state’s constitution. The Detroit Free Press reported one initiative would raise the state’s renewable energy standard to 25 percent by 2025, while the other would legalize the use of marijuana. In order to get on the Nov. 6 ballot, backers of the two initiatives must each collect 322,609 signatures and file the petitions with the secretary of state before July 9.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback in January announced a list of 51 state measures his administration is recommending be repealed, according to the Lawrence Journal World. One of Brownback’s first acts as governor in 2011 created the Office of the Repealer—an office designed to recommend the repeal of laws considered to be “unreasonable, unduly burdensome, duplicative, onerous or in conflict.” Many of the statutes recommended for repeal are either outdated or superseded by federal law.
TRAFFIC CAMERA BAN
Republican lawmakers in Iowa introduced bills in the House and Senate in January to ban red light and speed cameras, the Sioux City Journal reported. Gov. Terry Branstad indicated he would sign the ban if legislation is passed. The constitutionality of the cameras has been a topic of discussion in Iowa for the past several years. In 2008, the state’s Supreme Court ruled the cameras were constitutional in a case stemming from a dispute over cameras in Davenport.
Indiana lawmakers are pushing to strengthen the punishment for those convicted of attending animal fights, reported the Evansville Courier & Press. Senate Bill 11, which the Senate passed in January, would make the penalty for attending animal fights a felony punishable by six months to three years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Under current law, the penalty for attending animal fights is a misdemeanor for the first offense, with a second offense considered a felony.