Bill Edwards is one of Rick Scott's top individual donors. He wrote a $500,000 check to Scott's Let's Get to Work re-election PAC. Ironically, almost 500 of Edwards' employees will not get to work soon. One of his companies, Mortgage Investment Corp. (MIC), abruptly announced yesterday it's laying off 476 workers, including 256 people at its St. Petersburg headquarters. Fewer than 40 people will remain employed as the company winds down.
Of course, Edwards' MIC has not been without its controversy. It's been accused of misleading customers and violating National Do Not Call Registry rules. In fact, in June the company was hit with a $7.5 million fine, the largest fine handed down for violating the Do Not Call law. What's worse is that many of those misled customers were military veterans.
The FTC said telemarketers from Mortgage Investors misled service members that the company was affiliated with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and that they could receive low-interest, fixed-rate mortgages at no cost. In reality, regulators said, the company was only offering adjustable rate mortgages that left consumers liable for higher payments with rising interest rates. It also required consumers to pay closing costs.
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Edwards, however, doesn't blame those shady business practices but rather new laws. He claims the company couldn't figure out how to comply with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act without going broke.
"We've attempted to decipher all 2,300 pages of the Dodd-Frank Act," Edwards told the paper. "Our entire team has dedicated enormous energy to reviewing all aspects of the new regulations that are now coming into effect. Sadly, we've concluded that it's no longer cost-effective for us to originate new loans for our nation's veterans, nor do we understand how to implement these new government guidelines."
That law was passed in 2010, and the company has had three years to figure it out.