Senate candidate Katie Porter once worked for mortgage service firm

Gig, deleted from resume, could hurt her image as a progressive antagonist of big banks

Rep. Katie Porter and the HQ of Ocwen Financial Corporation at 1661 Worthington Road in West Palm Beach, Florida
Rep. Katie Porter and the HQ of Ocwen Financial Corporation at 1661 Worthington Road in West Palm Beach, Florida (Google Maps, porter.house.gov)

Rep. Katie Porter, an antagonist of big banks, once worked for a questionable mortgage loan service provider. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at her resume.

The Democratic congresswoman from Orange County was hired in 2015 as a consultant for Ocwen Financial, a mortgage servicing provider that faced multibillion-dollar fines and penalties for allegedly ripping off homeowners, Politico reported.

Her gig at Ocwen came soon after she oversaw the national mortgage settlement as the state’s independent monitor after the 2008 financial crisis, and before her first run for Congress.

The full scope of Porter’s work for Ocwen remains unclear. Porter declined interview requests about her work for Ocwen, and advisers for her Senate campaign wouldn’t reveal how much she was paid. Her official biography omits services to Ocwen.

But an aide said in a written statement that she was hired to advise the company in its communication with customers, and not to lobby or interact with regulators. 

Nathan Click, a senior adviser to Porter, said she was hired by the Palm Beach, Florida, firm to focus on the kind of work she did as California’s monitor during the mortgage settlement, including “translating the banks’ mumbo jumbo about eligibility into a clear consumer-facing tool.”

Porter’s Ocwen work showed up in an older version of her online resume, but was removed within three months of her first campaign for Congress, in April 2017, according to Politico.

It escaped attention during her rise from University of California, Irvine, law professor to the state’s independent monitor and to her election to Congress from OC.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Porter is now a top contender for the seat of retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Her stint with the loan servicing firm could water down her image as an unsparing progressive battling corporate interests she believes are infecting nearly every aspect of the U.S. political system.

In 2013, Ocwen settled with California and 48 other states for $2.1 billion based on allegations the company deceived homeowners and engaged in robo-signing and other misconduct. At the time of that settlement, Ocwen held 6 percent of the state’s underwater loans.

Porter was working as the state’s independent monitor appointed by then-Attorney General Kamala Harris to oversee the larger, $20-billion mortgage settlement with five major banks. The Ocwen settlement was finalized in 2014, while Porter worked for the state.

In 2015, she accepted the consulting role with the company while teaching at UC Irvine, according to Politico.

The work lasted less than six months, Click said, adding that Ocwen was the only financial firm that Porter worked for. 

— Dana Bartholomew

Read more