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Did Bank Of America Write Its Own Bailout?

In the rush of events we overlooked this stunning bit of news from the Washington Examiner:

Senate ignores ethics problems with tainted mortgage bill

Jun 20, 2008 by Timothy Carney,

WASHINGTON – Last night, the Senate steamrolled an effort to slow down the mortgage bailout bill despite plenty of good reasons to take a pause.

Powerful politicians have received special treatment from the lender at the heart of the subprime mortgage meltdown, and the bill’s chief Senate sponsor has gathered hefty campaign contributions from the company that probably stands to benefit the most from the legislation…

The housing measure — sponsored in the Senate by the Banking Committee’s chairman, Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and the top Republican on the panel, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama — would create a new program in which the Federal Housing Authority could take foreclosed loans off the hands of lenders.

The buyouts would be paid for by a new special tax charged to federally-chartered mortgage companies like Fannie Mae. Countrywide Financial is the lender with the most exposure to risky loans, and thus the most potential liability from foreclosure. That’s why were eyebrows raised when it was learned that Countrywide had extended special VIP loans to Dodd, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., former Bush Housing Secretary Alphonso Jackson, former Clinton administration Ambassador Richard Holbrooke and other politically connected people.

Dodd could save $75,000 over the life of the loan thanks to the VIP discount he received…

But the ethical problems with the bill don’t end there; they extend to the involvement of Bank of America. Bank of America is in the process of buying Countrywide Financial and thus taking on all of their subprime loans.

Bank of America’s PAC this year has maxed out its contributions to two different campaign committees controlled by Dodd, giving $10,000 each to Dodd’s presidential campaign and to Dodd’s CHRIS PAC.

On top of that, Dodd pocketed a staggering $50,000 from Bank of America employees in the first 15 months of his Banking Committee chairmanship (contribution data for April through June is not yet available from the Federal Election Committee). Again, the chief sponsor of this bill has averaged $1,000 per week from the chief beneficiary.

A Senate staffer and a House staffer both told me on background that the House version of the bill — or at least the bailout portion — was drafted by Bank of America. I have also reviewed a March 11, 2008, "Discussion Document" currently circulating among Hill staffers that appears to have been drafted by somebody at Bank of America.

The document’s title, “FHA Housing Stabilization and Homeownership Retention Act of 2008,” is now the title of HR 5831, the House version of Dodd-Shelby, sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.

The paper more or less spells out the mortgage bailout plan contained in the House and Senate versions. The date of the document is one month earlier than the date HR 5831 was introduced. If the document, stamped “confidential and proprietary” is valid, it points to a Bank of America source as the author of the House version of this bill

This is a lot of news to be buried in the back pages of the Examiner under "commentary."

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, June 23rd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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