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Obama invites Coakley to White House

Prosecutors asked for their input on financial reform

Attorneys General Andrew Cuomo of New York (left) Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, and Roy Cooper of North Carolina took seats in the East Room at the White House yesterday before President Obama’s remarks on regulatory reform. Attorneys General Andrew Cuomo of New York (left) Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, and Roy Cooper of North Carolina took seats in the East Room at the White House yesterday before President Obama’s remarks on regulatory reform. (Gerald Herbert/ Associated Press)
By Matt Viser and Jonathan Saltzman
Globe Staff / October 10, 2009

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Attorney General Martha Coakley huddled with President Obama yesterday in Washington to discuss regulation of the financial industry, a meeting that, while unrelated to her US Senate candidacy, could help her showcase herself as a national player.

The president asked her to discuss regulatory reforms that the White House is pursuing. She was joined by three other attorneys general: Andrew Cuomo of New York, Lisa Madigan of Illinois, and Ray Cooper of North Carolina.

Coakley said the four were among a group of prosecutors who cracked down on investment banks and mortgage companies that she said had contributed to the financial crisis.

“We’re in the lead in Massachusetts, with suits like Fremont and our settlement with Goldman Sachs,’’ Coakley said in a phone interview, referring to two recent cases. “Other states who are aggressive on this look to Massachusetts.’’

It is clear that Coakley, the front-runner in the Senate Democratic primary, is trying to make the most of her meeting with the president, politically speaking. Her campaign trumpeted the event yesterday on its Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Coakley said she did not view her invitation to the White House as an endorsement of her candidacy.

“I’m clearly invited as attorney general and for the work I’ve done as attorney general, but this is a huge issue for people in this country,’’ she said.

Her major competitors in the Dec. 8 primary are US Representative Michael E. Capuano, City Year cofounder Alan Khazei, and Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca.

In June, Fremont Investment & Loan Co., once one of the state’s largest subprime mortgage lenders, agreed to pay $10 million to settle charges that it offered predatory loans in low-income neighborhoods across Massachusetts.

The state had sued Fremont, alleging that its loans included terms such as 100 percent financing and “no documentation borrowing’’ that often resulted in borrowers defaulting and facing foreclosure.

Coakley also reached a $60 million agreement this year with Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs to reduce the size of subprime loans for some 700 Massachusetts homeowners by up to 35 percent.