An attention-grabbing experiment in financial brinksmanship by state Sen. Shirley Huntley has revealed her own ties to predatory lenders who have been the bane of her district.
How one politician made a mess of her mortgage
Huntley announced on Feb. 27 she had deliberately defaulted on her mortgage to get a firsthand feel for her constituents' struggles. But by March 10 - a day before stiff penalties were to kick in - she bailed out, the Daily News has learned.
Property records also showed she had previously taken several risky loans from subprime lenders blamed for defaults in her Jamaica district.
Twice before, Huntley had narrowly avoided losing her home to foreclosure. She said those situations were created by unanticipated bills from family medical expenses.
But The News discovered she had refinanced her home with 10 lenders over 30 years.
Huntley's original mortgage in 1976 was $28,500. Three decades later, she owes $290,000 due to repeated borrowing against her home, property records show.
Huntley admitted, "I used my house as money" in the past. But the lenders were not the problem, she said.
"Frankly, I thought it didn't matter where you got a mortgage."
The recent experiment was to see what steps, if any, banks like her current lender, Wells Fargo, took to communicate with owners in default, she said.