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Countrywide Gave 30 Senate ‘VIP Loans’

From the Wall Street Journal:

Senate VIP Loans Mount

Countrywide Dealt With More Lawmakers and Staffers Than Previously Known

JULY 15, 2010

U.S. senators or Senate employees received 30 loans—far more than had previously been known—under a controversial lending program at Countrywide Financial Corp. that provided cut-rate terms to favored borrowers.

The information is contained in a letter sent to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics by Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), who has been spearheading the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s investigation into Countrywide’s so-called VIP mortgage program.

No specific loan recipients were named in the letter. But Mr. Issa’s letter said borrowers on a dozen loans listed their place of employment as the office of "Senator Robert Bennett." Available public records don’t indicate that Sen. Bennett, a Utah Republican and member of the Senate Banking Committee, received a Countrywide home loan.

Sens. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D., N.D.), have previously been identified among the high-profile individuals who received such loans. Both senators have denied wrongdoing. Until the Issa letter, no other senators or their staff members had been linked to the VIP loan program

A spokesman for the Senate Ethics panel declined to comment. A spokesman for Bank of America Corp., which in 2008 acquired Countrywide, said the company had cooperated with the investigation by the House committee.

The VIP program operated during the housing boom earlier this decade, often writing mortgages with terms more favorable than those available to the general public. An estimated 28,000 loans were made, mostly to private parties such as Countrywide employees or their friends and relatives.

The House Oversight panel, where Mr. Issa is the ranking Republican member, is probing whether such loans were issued to public officials in an attempt to influence them

Who could imagine such a thing?

In his letter dated July 13, Mr. Issa wrote that on seven loans not tied to Mr. Bennett’s office, the borrowers listed their place of employment as "U.S. Senator." Another 11 listed the "U.S. Senate." In response to questions, a spokesman for Mr. Issa said the House committee didn’t receive the names of the borrowers from Bank of America.

Why not, if the Bank Of America says it is cooperating?

More than one loan could have gone to the same person, such as a mortgage and a separate home-equity line of credit. Mr. Conrad received four Countrywide loans, a spokesman for the senator said. Mr. Dodd reportedly received at least two. Their loans were presumably included in the 30.

Mr. Issa’s letter said that many of the 30 loans were made in 2002 and 2003, at the beginning of a national "mortgage boom" that helped make Countrywide for a time the nation’s biggest home lender. Increasing problems in its loan portfolio led to Countrywide’s takeover and contributed to the widespread economic upheaval that hit the country in 2008.

The letter said the House committee’s investigation had found that Countrywide used the VIP loan program to "build relationships with government officials."

Mr. Issa’s letter said he was sending the information to the Senate Ethics panel, because his House committee didn’t investigate ethics matters involving the Senate.

Don’t worry. The Senate won’t investigate, either.

The House Oversight panel is still gathering information from Bank of America regarding VIP loans given to congressmen and their staffers, Mr. Issa’s spokesman said. Such information is expected to include the names of at least some individual borrowers. Mr. Issa’s spokesman declined to comment on what information was emerging in that investigation…

Mr. Issa’s efforts to investigate the VIP loan program were stymied for a time by the unwillingness of the House oversight panel’s chairman, New York Democrat Edolphus Towns, to issue a subpoena to Bank of America for the VIP program records.

Last August, The Wall Street Journal reported that public loan documents indicated Rep. Towns had received two mortgages from the VIP program. At the time of the story, a spokeswoman for Mr. Towns said he didn’t seek any preferential treatment and hadn’t heard of the VIP loan program until the 2008 news reports. She added that Mr. Towns’s unwillingness to issue a subpoena had nothing to do with his Countrywide loans. Subsequently, he decided to issue the subpoena

Mind you, we are talking about the chairman of the “House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.” The committee investigating Countrywide’s VIP mortgage program. Talk about the fox guarding the hen house.

All of which makes you wonder how much Countrywide is going to benefit from the mammoth ‘financial reform’ bill that is about the be passed by the Senate and signed by Mr. Obama any day now.

By the way, Mr. Obama, as Senator, received more campaign money from Countrywide than even the estimable Mr. Dodd.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, July 15th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Countrywide Gave 30 Senate ‘VIP Loans’”

  1. proreason says:

    Our aristocracts deserve a break once in a while, don’t they?

    Look how hard they work to make our country fair, and to provide us so many benefits for free.

    And their empathy is boundless. They feel all of our pain, personally.

    How did people in this country ever survive before a class of benevolent overseers rose up to take care of us?

    And what do they get for it?

    I mean, other than six-figure salaries that increase every year, platinum medical benefits, platinum retirement packages, freedom from prosecution from anything short of mass murder, millions of dollars in bribes annually, 4 day work weeks with multiple month-long vacations annually, taxpayer-paid trips to the best vacation spots on the planet, immunity from all morals charges, free food and lodging whenever they travel, taxpayer paid staffs of dozens of people, free postage, fame and the ability to lecture citizens on their failings. Other than that, they lead a really hard life.

  2. tranquil.night says:

    Well since this undoubtedly snares more Democrats than Republicans, in the interest of the reputation of “the most transparent government evah” it sounds like it’s time for Mr. Obama to order up an ethics commission (while stressing this all occurred during Bush and the Republican congress of course) to review and/or clarify the rules so teensy snafoos like this can be avoided in the future.

    Or all the criminal pols can go the Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa/typical Liberal route and just say all the houses were for official public business.

  3. NoNeoCommies says:

    It’s the seriousness of the charge, not the nature of the evidence.
    If politicians are involved it should be exposed to the light.

  4. Tater Salad says:

    Communists within our government are identified:


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