Still, liberal critics allege that in many cases, Harris was too restrained when going after the financial industry. People who supported Sanders in the 2016 primary have been especially skeptical of Harris’s values.
After negotiating the $25 billion settlement deal, Harris also introduced a special task force to prosecute mortgage and foreclosure fraud. However, the team, known as the Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, only processed three cases in 10 years, according to a report by the East Bay Express.
In 2012, the California Department of Justice found in an investigation that OneWest Bank participated in “widespread misconduct” when foreclosing on homes, recommending that Harris file a civil enforcement action against the bank. However, Harris declined to prosecute OneWest or its then-CEO, Steven Mnuchin, despite the department’s recommendation. A spokesman for Mnuchin called the allegations “garbage.”
The OneWest issue was resurfaced in 2017 when Mnuchin was nominated to serve as Treasury secretary. She was also the only Democratic Senate candidate to receive a donation from Mnuchin during the 2016 elections, according to FEC records. Still, she voted against his confirmation as Treasury secretary.
In a 2017 interview with The Hill, Harris pushed back against criticism of her decision. “We went and we followed the facts and the evidence, and it’s a decision my office made,” she said.
“There was no question One West conducted predatory lending, and Senator Harris believes they should be punished,” Ian Sams, national press secretary for Harris’s campaign, told CNBC in an email. “Unfortunately, the law was squarely on their side and they were shielded from state subpoenas because they’re a federal bank.” The California Justice Department’s memo noted that “the investigation was hampered by our inability to subpoena OneWest,” but that would not have prevented Harris from filing a civil enforcement action against the bank if she chose to do so.