Rep. Eric Cantor Blocked Foreclosure Crisis Fix While Owning a Financial Stake in Mortgage Businesses

Will the House of Representatives strengthen the Stock Act, legislation to curb lawmakers and government officials from profitting from their position in government? In the Senate, a strong amendment offered by Senator Sherrod Brown to force members of Congress to either divest from companies that stand to benefit from policymaking or dump their investments into a blind trust was defeated.

Congressman Eric Cantor (R-VA) is managing the House version of the Stock Act. Since it appears unlikely that Cantor will attach Brown’s meaningful amendment, Cantor’s own history of legislating on issues that affect his bank account deserves a renewed look.

Throughout 2009, Cantor helped lead opposition to mortgage cramdown — a no-cost measure to help borrowers negotiate lower interest rates and avoid foreclosure. While Cantor marshaled opposition to these policies, he did not disclose that both his own wealth and his wife’s were connected to the mortgage industry:

–- Cantor invested in several mortgage banks, and owned a portion of a Cantor-family run mortgage company. According to Cantor’s 2009 personal finance disclosure, Cantor owned up to a $500,000 share of a mortgage company called TrustMor run by his brother.

–- While Cantor blocked a fix to the foreclosure crisis, his wife Diane Cantor served as the managing director of a bank with a high foreclosure rate. Diane Cantor at the time worked as a managing director to New York Private Bank & Trust, a major mortgage bank and TARP recipient. SNL Financial later reported that Cantor’s bank was among the top three banks in the mortgage business “with the the greatest percentage of family loans in the foreclosure process.”

In 2009, Eric Cantor also owned a portion of a family debt collection law firm. According to his personal finance disclosure, Cantor owned up to a $100,000 stake in Cantor & Cantor, the debt collection law firm run by his family.

Diana Cantor now works at an investment firm called Alternative Investment Management.

Republic Report is an investigative news blog dedicated uncovering the corrupting influence of money in politics.