Poliquin puts mobile home owners at risk of predatory loans with Dodd-Frank vote

A little-noticed detail buried within the financial regulation rollback passed with backing from Rep. Bruce Poliquin and signed into law last month may soon threaten the financial security of mobile home buyers in Maine.

Maine’s 2nd District ranks first in New England for number of families living in mobile homes and, due to his vote, many of Poliquin’s constituents living in or wanting to purchase manufactured homes will be more vulnerable to predatory lending practices like those that trapped many home buyers in overpriced mortgages prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

According to an analysis by Americans for Financial Reform, Section 107 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act grants exemption from key mortgage lending protections for mobile homes buyers, allowing manufactured home sellers to overcharge customers and pocket the profits.

Poliquin, a former investment banker who has received $212,555 in contributions from the financial industry this year, voted on May 22 to roll back key regulations in Dodd-Frank, the most significant financial regulation law since the Great Depression.

Poliquin attached two bills to the law, one of which he said would protect Maine seniors from fraud and abuse.

“Maine is home to the oldest population in the nation and, unfortunately, so many of our seniors fall victim to financial abuse and fraud,” Poliquin said in a press release after the vote.

Yet the AFR also warns that seniors in rural areas may be put at increased risk. Section 103 of the law would weaken key protections against fraud in home sales, including exempting most homes sold in rural areas from appraisal requirements and making it easier to misinform homebuyers about the terms of their mortgage loan.

The new law was touted by its supporters for giving regulatory relief to small community banks through the elimination of enhanced oversight for banks with between $50 and $250 billion in assets. However, according to the AFR, this rollback impacts 25 of the 38 largest banks in the United States—including companies like SunTrust, American Express and Fifth Third—which received almost $50 billion in bailout money amid the 2008 financial crisis.

“By easing oversight of some of the largest institutions in the United States, lawmakers have paved the way for greater consolidation among banks and less attention from regulators just as industry friendly appointees are watering down the rules,” said Marcus Stanley, AFR’s policy director.

“The whole point of requiring careful supervision of the country’s largest banks was to force regulators to do their job in the face of industry pressure, and not ignore problems in an unsafe financial system,” Stanley said.

Poliquin’s vote to approve the Dodd-Frank rollback means he has now voted in line with President Trump’s positions 96.1 percent of the time. The regulatory bill passed the Senate earlier this year with the support of both Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and is now law.

(Photo: Oatsy40/Creative Commons via flickr)

About Dan Neumann

Avatar photoDan studied journalism at Colorado State University before beginning his career as a community newspaper reporter in Denver. He reported on the Global North's interventions in Africa, including documentaries on climate change, international asylum policy and U.S. militarization on the continent before returning to his home state of Illinois to teach community journalism on Chicago's West Side. He now lives in Portland. Dan can be reached at dan(at)mainebeacon.com.

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