inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

DelVal Reps Silent As Biden Admin Raises Mortgage Fees on Responsible Borrowers

Pennsylvanians with good credit will pay higher mortgage fees, while borrowers with bad credit will pay less under a new Biden administration rule. And the Delaware Valley’s congressional delegation is eerily silent on the matter.

Some Republicans and many responsible borrowers have lashed out against the policy, described by critics as income distribution applied to home ownership. Led by Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity, the top finance officials from 27 states sent a letter to the Biden administration opposing the new rule.

“For decades, Americans have been told that they will be rewarded for saving their money and building a good credit score,” they wrote. “This policy turns that time-tested principle upside down. And how will these new junk fees be used? To subsidize higher-risk borrowers by handing out better mortgage rates to people with lower credit ratings who have saved less for a down payment.”

The letter concludes, “We urge you to take immediate action to end this unconscionable policy.”

“This new policy makes it more expensive for people with good credit to buy houses – and that’s absurd,” Garrity told DVJournal. “Americans who have built a good credit score and saved enough to make a strong down payment should not be penalized and forced to pay more on their mortgage every single month. I’m proud that so many of my colleagues from across the country – representing a majority of states – have united to urge the immediate elimination of this policy.”

In Harrisburg, state Sens. Devlin Robinson (R-Allegheny) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) are seeking support from their colleagues for a resolution calling on the Biden administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to rescind a policy.

“Punishing hard-working Pennsylvanians who have good credit and are smart with their finances is simply wrong,” Robinson said. “I’m hopeful the administration and FHFA will quickly realize and rescind this harmful policy, and I’m glad so many of my Senate colleagues and constituents share this sentiment.”

“It is illogical what this policy accomplishes. You play by the rules and do things the right way, but you get penalized for it,” Phillips-Hill said. “Increased home ownership across our state would be ideal. However, this is another failed policy that dodges real problems, like how will we reduce inflation and bring down our sky-high interest rates.”

Members of Congress who oppose the rule have filed at least three bills to reverse the policy, and co-sponsors range from conservative Republicans like Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) to moderates like New York’s Rep. Patrick Lawler.

“Whether it’s student loan forgiveness or their mortgage rule, through the power of the pen, Biden and his executive agencies are attempting to bypass Congress and fundamentally change how our country operates,” said lead sponsor Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.) “We should not punish individuals who have made sound financial decisions or have the government incentivize lowering credit scores.”

However, no member of the DelVal congressional delegation, including Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, are on board. And none of them, including  Democratic Reps. Madeleine Dean, Mary Gay Scanlon, and Chrissy Houlahan—would respond to requests for comment.

The new policy, which took effect May 1, is designed to promote social justice by reducing lending fees on borrowers with lower credit scores. Meanwhile, home buyers with a credit score over 680 will pay about $500 more per year on a $400,000 loan. That adds up to more than $14,000 throughout a 30-year mortgage.

And borrowers who put aside enough savings for a 20 percent down payment will pay the highest fees under the new Federal Housing Agency (FHFA) policy.

Under the new LLPA (Loan-Level Price Adjustment) fee schedule, the borrower with modest credit — 640 to 659 — who puts down just 5 percent would enjoy a fee drop from 2.75 percent to 1.5 percent. But a borrower with good credit (740-759) with a 20 percent down payment would see their fee double from 0.5 percent to 1 percent.

Defenders of the new Biden policy shrug off the complaints, arguing that the fee changes are modest and stretched out over time. And Biden’s FHFA Director Sandra L. Thompson insisted that no subsidy is involved. Instead, it is just an update on pricing for the revenue the agency uses “to compensate [Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae] for guaranteeing borrowers’ mortgage payments, which in turn attracts investors across the globe to provide liquidity for the U.S. mortgage market and, ultimately, reduces interest rates for homeowners.”

Bruce Elmslie, chair of the University of New Hampshire economics department, said the policy “creates perverse incentives when you’re incentivizing those actors who have lower credit. And increasing the fee on a higher credit score, that’s a disincentive to people from taking the most credit-worthy actions.”

Even former Obama FHA Commissioner David Stevens told Fox Business he thinks it’s a mistake. “We can do better programs to help more minorities get into homeownership. This is not the way to do it.”


Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Chester County Dumps TikTok, State Senate Committee Approves Ban

The video app TikTok, a favorite of teenagers, continues to be under fire in the Keystone State over its connections to China’s communist regime.

A state Senate committee and Chester County’s government are the latest local entities to take action. Previously, state Treasurer Stacy Garrity ordered it removed from her department’s devices while in Washington, D.C. the Biden administration recently gave federal agencies 30 days to get rid of the app.

On Monday, the Senate Communications and Technology Committee announced legislation to protect the information of Pennsylvania state government, including citizen information, by prohibiting state-owned devices from downloading and using TikTok, committee chair Sen. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Bucks/Montgomery) said.

“We are talking about the potential of foreign governments having access to Americans’ personal information,” Pennycuick said. “We have many state employees who use TikTok. The opening presented to foreign bad actors to exploit this information is huge. By passing this measure, we will have blocked another potential avenue for cyber incursion and improve state government’s cyber defenses.”

Chester County’s director of information recently sent an email to employees instructing them to remove TikTok from their county equipment.

Delaware County has not taken that step.

“Delaware County has not currently taken any specific action regarding use of TikTok on county-owned phones. Internet policies are continuously under review to help ensure the continued security of the county’s networks and devices,” said Adrienne Marofsky, director of communications.

James O’Malley, a Bucks County spokesman, said, “Like countless other users of TikTok, we have watched the emerging revelations around this company with great concern. While the county uses TikTok as a platform to share information with the public, we will continue to monitor developments in the ongoing national discussion.”

Montgomery County officials did not respond when asked about their TikTok policy.

Neither did Pennsylvania’s two U.S. senators, both of whom are TikTok users. Democrats Bob Casey and  John Fetterman are among just 32 of the 535 members of Congress who, according to a review by States Newsroom in January are using the app. Fetterman joined TikTok last summer, long after the company’s problematic policies were well known.

Casey and Fetterman have declined to respond to repeated requests for comment about their TikTok accounts.

Garrity has been one of the most aggressive elected officials when it comes to TikTok. “Treasury’s computer network is targeted by scammers and criminals every day,” Garrity said when she announced her agency’s ban. “TikTok presents a clear danger due to its collection of personal data and its close connection to the communist Chinese government. Banning TikTok from Treasury devices and systems is an important step in our never-ending work to ensure the safety of Pennsylvanians’ hard-earned tax dollars and other important, sensitive information entrusted to Treasury.”

A TikTok spokeswoman noted Congress passed the ban on federal devices in December but called it “little more than political theater.”

“The swiftest and most thorough way to address any national security concerns about TikTok is for CFIUS to adopt the proposed agreement that we worked with them on for nearly two years. These plans have been developed under the oversight of our country’s top national security agencies, and we are well underway in implementing them to further secure our platform in the United States,” she said.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or


 U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of PA Treasury in Landmark Unclaimed Property Case

From a press release

Tuesday, the U. S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the Pennsylvania Treasury Department in a landmark unclaimed property case, creating the potential return of nearly $19 million in escheated funds to Pennsylvania from Delaware.

The case, Delaware v. Pennsylvania et al, was originally filed by Pennsylvania in 2016. It was subsequently joined by 29 other states.

“This ruling means that Pennsylvania residents will have a real opportunity to reclaim millions of dollars in unclaimed property,” Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity said. “The Supreme Court rejected Delaware’s attempt to gain an unfair windfall and struck a strong blow in favor of consumers. I’m eager to get to the business of returning this money to the hardworking people it rightfully belongs to.”

The Court’s decision adopted much of the reasoning and many of the arguments advanced by Pennsylvania Treasury.

The next step is for the Special Master appointed by the Supreme Court to determine exactly how much money is owed to Pennsylvania and other states. It’s estimated that Delaware could owe as much as $400 million in escheated funds to other states – including the nearly $19 million to Pennsylvania – as unclaimed property from MoneyGram Payment Systems, Inc., a provider of money transfer and bill payment services.

This is the first time in almost 30 years that the Supreme Court considered a question involving the laws governing unclaimed property.

Pennsylvania argued that uncashed “official checks” sold by MoneyGram in Pennsylvania are a form of money order. According to the Federal Disposition Act (FDA), uncashed money orders and similar instruments are to be escheated to the state in which they were originally purchased. Delaware argued that MoneyGram’s “official checks” do not fall into this FDA classification, and are therefore due to the state where the company is incorporated.

In May 2021, SCOTUS-appointed Special Master Judge Pierre N. Leval of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 100-page report which ruled in Pennsylvania’s favor, finding that Delaware improperly demanded and received uncashed MoneyGram checks purchased in other states. Today’s Supreme Court decision adopted the recommendations of that report.

In Special Master Leval’s 2021 report, he conclusively determined the disputed MoneyGram “official checks” should be returned to the state of original purchase in compliance with the FDA. He found Delaware’s argument to be logically “flawed” and both “insubstantial and unpersuasive.”

In October 2022, Pennsylvania Treasury and other states presented oral arguments before the Supreme Court.

Pennsylvania’s case was originally filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. The case was subsequently moved to the Supreme Court as a dispute between states that falls within the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction. After Pennsylvania’s filing, 29 other states filed suit using the same legal arguments advanced by Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is the only state directly represented by its unclaimed property administrator, Treasurer Garrity. Pennsylvania Treasury is represented by its Chief Counsel, Christopher B. Craig, along with Matthew H. Haverstick and Joshua J. Voss of Philadelphia-based Kleinbard LLC.

The other states were all represented by their respective Attorney General Offices.

PA Treasurer Stacy Garrity Elected Chair of National ABLE Savings Plan Network

From a press release

Treasurer Stacy Garrity has been elected as the inaugural Chair of the new ABLE Savings Plan Network (ASPN), a group formed by the National Association of State Treasurers. ABLE programs allow Americans with disabilities to save tax-free without affecting their eligibility for means-tested government benefits.

ABLE accounts help Americans with disabilities live more independently and enjoy better financial security,” Garrity said. “I’m honored to lead this new organization to advance the reach of ABLE programs. We’re all dedicated to making sure these programs are accessible and affordable, and I will be a tireless advocate to ensure our ABLE programs are successful and continue to grow and help more Americans.”

The Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, passed in 2014, allowing states to create ABLE programs. It was sponsored by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.)

“ABLE programs help Americans with disabilities save for the future and work towards financial security. I can fortunately say that these programs are benefiting Pennsylvanians every day, helping them lead independent lives,” said Senator Casey. “Treasurer Garrity is knowledgeable and well-qualified for this position. I have faith that she will work to ensure the accessibility of these programs to Pennsylvanians with disabilities.”

ASPN will provide strategic leadership on advancing ABLE accounts by monitoring federal actions, including any legislative or regulatory changes, that impact state ABLE plans, developing strategies to improve ABLE plans at the federal level, and analyzing best practices for those with an eligible disability who want to save and invest for a better life, achieve financial empowerment, and prepare for a more independent future.

Pennsylvania’s ABLE program – PA ABLE – is the largest in the 19-member National ABLE Alliance, accounting for nearly 25 percent of total assets, and one of the largest ABLE programs nationwide. More than 7,000 PA ABLE account owners have saved more than $71 million for disability-related expenses. The program was created with instrumental support from state Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming), and the first PA ABLE accounts were opened in 2017.

“We are proud of the bipartisan work done to establish and implement a very effective and popular program here in Pennsylvania,” Baker said. “Since becoming state treasurer, Stacy Garrity has been a champion of expanding eligibility for the program, especially with a focus on assisting veterans, and encouraging more families to sign up for the advantages it offers. It is appropriate that her organizational, fiscal, and advocacy skills will now be deployed on a national basis.”

To be eligible for PA ABLE, a person’s disability must have occurred prior to their 26th birthday. PA ABLE account owners can save and pay for short- or long-term disability related expenses including education, housing, transportation, assistive technology, health care, financial management, and more.

Casey has introduced the ABLE Age Adjustment Act in Congress, which would raise the eligibility to those whose disability occurs by age 46. This would expand ABLE account access to about 6 million more Americans, including an estimated 1 million disabled veterans. The legislation is cosponsored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) A House version has also been introduced and is cosponsored by 17 members of the Pennsylvania delegation.

“I’m a strong supporter of the ABLE Age Adjustment Act and will work with other members of ASPN to urge Congress to approve it and President Biden to sign it,” Garrity said. “It’s a great bill that will benefit many of the brave men and women who have served in our military. It’s time to get it done.”


Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Thieves Scam Millions From Struggling Chester Upland School District

A romance scam, cryptocurrency, and hacked email accounts were part of an attempted theft of large sums of money from the Chester Upland School District.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer and Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity held a press conference Friday to disclose the results of their investigation.

The scheme involved a Florida resident trying to steal, and then launder, millions in state funding for the CUSD. Agencies collaborated to recapture $10.3 million owed to the district.

“The scope and complexity of the scheme are, however, alarming and remind us all of the importance of keeping our technology protected, as well as the perils of conducting financial transactions with–or on behalf of–individuals unknown to you,” Stollsteimer said. “Thanks to quick action by the treasurer’s office, this audacious attempt to steal from the school children of Chester and the taxpayers of the commonwealth was thwarted.”

In February 2021, the treasurer’s office learned from one of its banking partners that a payment request for about $8.5 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) was flagged as potentially fraudulent. It came after several other payment requests from PDE had already been processed and paid to an account thought to belong to CUSD.

Officials alerted the appropriate agencies of their findings, worked quickly to identify misdirected funds, and pursued recall of the misdirected payments.

“We are hopeful that the additional missing $3 million that the district was to receive in state funding will be returned to Chester Upland. Our district faces significant economic challenges, and we are doing our best to allocate as much money as possible to our classrooms and provide appropriate and adequate staffing. An additional $3 million can make a difference for our students. We are also exploring our options with our insurance carrier,” Nafis J. Nicholas, receiver for CUSD, said in a press release. “We are very pleased that $10 million of the $13 million that was intercepted from the district has been returned and recovered to the district.”

The district has been plagued by financial difficulties for decades.

Detective Sergeant Joseph Hackett and Detective Edward Silberstein from the Delaware County Criminal Investigation Division (CID) uncovered a two-part, complex scheme that allowed international fraud rings to misdirect the state education funds intended for CUSD.

The CID detectives identified that, in the first part of the scheme, CUSD email systems had been compromised by a sophisticated hacker. Further investigating the channels of the misdirected funds, CID detectives determined that the second part of the scheme employed a money mule to funnel the misdirected funds to other individuals.

That led to CID tracking down, identifying, and interviewing a Florida resident who served as the money mule in the case. After the investigation, it was established that the individual, recently widowed, was a victim of a romance scam.

“Our investigation has determined that this scheme is tied to individuals in Nigeria, and we have alerted all relevant federal authorities in the furtherance of the international investigation,” Stollsteimer said. “By using a widow as a conduit, and by directing those funds be transferred using cryptocurrency, the individuals behind this scheme obscured their identity and made tracing the funds far more complex.”

Quickly after the Treasury learned of these fraudulent payments, the Account Verification System (AVS), a system designed to detect suspicious transactions and prevent fraud, was implemented in the Governor’s Budget Office’s Bureau of Payable Services of Comptroller Operations.

Stollsteimer and Garrity advised residents to be vigilant for cybercriminals and hackers.

“This incident should remind everyone—businesses, government agencies, nonprofits, and—always be alert for fraudsters and cybercriminals. We must take every possible step to prevent fraud. In this case, my team and I were very pleased to work closely with District Attorney Stollsteimer and others to recover $10.3 million for the CUSD,” Garrity said. “It’s clear my highest priority is serving as a fiscal watchdog to protect taxpayer funds.”

Treasury was authorized to implement AVS for all Treasury payments as part of the Fiscal Code approved alongside the 2022-23 state budget.

“This was truly a team effort and could not have been possible without the help of the Delaware County District Attorney’s office and its detectives, the staff at the Treasury, and the Bureau of Payable Services Office of Comptroller Operations,” Garrity said.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

PA Treasurer Garrity Joins Lawsuit Opposing Wolf’s RGGI Push

Pennsylvania’s state treasurer is throwing her two cents into a lawsuit opposing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

“RGGI is a massive, illegal tax disguised as a regulation,” Treasurer Stacy Garrity said in a press release.

The lawsuit was filed in the Commonwealth Court on April 25 by a coalition of energy companies and unions. They argue Pennsylvania’s entrance into RGGI will drive up prices and harm jobs.

Garrity agreed.

“If it’s allowed to be implemented, energy prices for every Pennsylvanian will skyrocket–and thousands of our good, family-sustaining jobs will be lost,” said Garrity.

Pennsylvania’s entrance into RGGI has been a hotly-contested issue for years. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) took executive action in 2019 instructing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to put Pennsylvania in the multi-state compact. Politicians, think tanks, and special interest groups say Wolf should have gone through the legislative process.

“The governor unilaterally entering RGGI without any legislative approval is a direct insult to democracy,” state Rep. Ryan Warner (R-Fayette) told DVJournal last year.

Wolf ignored the complaints. The Environmental Quality Board (EQB) went on to vote 15-4 to adopt the final regulation that would bring the state into a regional agreement among Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia. It sets a cap on total carbon dioxide emissions from electric power generation in those states. Generators will purchase credits–effectively a carbon tax–per ton of emissions through auctions.

“The Wolf administration is trying to use the regulatory process to avoid seeking legislative approval for its scheme to impose limits on the operation of electric generators, but our state constitution is clear,” Garrity said this week. “The power of taxation belongs to the General Assembly, not to the unelected and unaccountable members of the EQB.”

As a result, Garrity says she is “proud” to stand with Pennsylvania’s energy companies and the unions who “represent many thousands of hardworking Pennsylvanians.”

Unions and energy companies are not the only ones concerned about RGGI. Organizations including the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Pennsylvania have been speaking out against RGGI. Several appeared before the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee in April to testify on the concerns about RGGI’s economic harm, particularly among small and independent businesses already facing higher prices and supply chain issues.

Greg Moreland of NFIB PA said the concerns remain. NFIB told DVJournal Wednesday he believes the EQB did not conduct a complete analysis of the regulation on small businesses as required by the Regulatory Review Act (RRA).

“Every other state that has entered RGGI has obtained legislative approval,” Moreland said. “The governor and the EQB do not have the authority to enact a carbon tax, and this is a tax. NFIB is fully supportive of efforts that acknowledge the constitutional powers to tax only come from the General Assembly.”

Time is of the essence. Wolf, who is a lame duck, has stated on several occasions that Pennsylvania’s participation in RGGI is needed to combat man-made climate change.

“Climate is the most critical environmental threat confronting the world, and power generation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions,” said the governor.

Delaware Valley Democrats agree that is the case. State Sen. Katie Muth (D-44) has also argued reducing emissions will improve public health.

“Efforts to block Pennsylvania from joining RGGI only put our environment, health, and economic security at risk,” she wrote in an op-ed.

Still, Garrity and others argue that economic security is at risk of jobs being killed as a result of RGGI.

“The taxes imposed by these unlawful regulations will directly harm miners, electrical workers, welders, and fabricators,” said Garrity. “Once lost, these jobs may never return, (so) the Court should act quickly to prevent irreparable harm done to Pennsylvania’s electric generation industry and its thousands of workers.”

Pointing to a report last fall by Independent Fiscal Office, Garrity said Pennsylvania’s carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by 37 percent over the last decade without the regulatory burden of RGGI.

Companies and unions involved in the lawsuit include those with coal interests, natural gas, and oil-burning power plants in Pennsylvania, United Mine Workers of America, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers.

Follow us on social media:Twitter: @DV_Journal or