Who’s Behind the Financial Meltdown?

Published — May 6, 2009 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

No. 6 of The Subprime 25: Option One Mortgage Corp./H&R Block Inc.


Total high-interest loans 2005-2007:

At least $64.7 billion

Federal bailout money received:


Company overview

  • Status: CLOSED. Option One stopped originating loans in December 2007.
  • History: Option One began as a subsidiary of Plaza Home Mortgage Corp. and was sold to Fleet Financial Group in 1995. H&R Block bought it in 1997. An ad on Monster.com for Option One once bragged “Our goal at Option One is not to be the biggest mortgage lender, but to be the best.” The company stopped originating loans during H&R Block’s third fiscal quarter, which ended January 31, 2008. On April 30, 2008, American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc., an affiliate of private equity company Wilbur Ross & Co., bought Option One’s loan servicing business for $1.3 billion.
  • Parent/subsidiary companies: Option One was a subsidiary of tax preparation firm H&R Block Inc.
  • CEO: President/CEO (Option One): Robert E. Dubrish
    • Most recent salary: 2008 – $392,308; $1,906,507 in total compensation
  • Location: Irvine, California
  • Year founded: 1992
  • Backers: Option One maintained billions of dollars in lines of credit from companies including Citigroup, UBS, Bank of America, and Lehman Brothers.

Lobbying overview

  • Lobbying: 1999-2008: H&R Block Inc. reported $2,184,000 in lobbying expenditures and listed legislation affecting mortgage regulation among its issues. **
  • Total Contributions: At least $1,368,386 *
  • Top Recipients:
    1. National Republican Congressional Committee $82,850
    2. Democratic National Committee $51,281
    3. Republican National Committee $39,050
    4. Senator Tim Johnson, D-South Dakota $38,000
    5. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee $30,250


  • Settlements:
    • In 2005, the U.S. Attorney’s Office found that the company had funded fraudulent loans for Pennsylvania brokers. Option One agreed to pay $100,000 to several Philadelphia-area community lending groups and reform its lending practices.

** Lobbying totals calculated by the Center for Public Integrity using data from the Senate Office of Public Records.

* Contribution grand total includes employee and soft money contributions from the lender and its subsidiaries. Top recipient totals include employee and political action committee contributions. Data provided by CQ Money Line, analysis by the Center for Public Integrity.

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