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Pam Bondi will appoint inspector general to investigate foreclosure lawyer dismissals

Facing criticism for the forced resignations of two attorneys leading foreclosure fraud investigations, Attorney General Pam Bondi said Tuesday she will appoint an independent inspector general to examine the dismissals.

Bondi said the two were let go from their jobs in the Fort Lauderdale economic crimes office because of poor job performance, and not for political reasons, as has been alleged. But she said she has questions about documentation of the decision made by her top staff members.

"Because people are making unfounded allegations, I'm requesting an outside IG review this for us," she said. "I want to do everything I can to make this the best office in this country, and I do have questions as to documentation."

At issue are the departures of lawyers June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards, who led foreclosure fraud investigations under former Attorney General Bill McCollum. Clarkson and Edwards were forced to resign in late March. They had received positive job evaluations from McCollum.

The move prompted state Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, to demand all records relating to their resignations. Progress Florida, a liberal advocacy group based in St. Petersburg, accused Bondi of being beholden to the financial industry and began circulating a petition calling for an investigation.

Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida, called news that Bondi planned to investigate "fantastic."

"We clearly felt there was enough smoke here to warrant looking for a fire. We’re glad to hear there’s going to be an independent investigation," he said. "We are hopeful it will be truly independent."

Edwards said the appointment of an inspector general is a step in the right direction.

"We just hope it will really be someone indpendent," she said. "If they are they'll see that what appears happened, actually happened. We were fired without cause."