House Republican Campaign Chairman Got VIP Loan from Countrywide

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House GOP chair got discounted loan

By LARRY MARGASAK
Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The House Republican campaign chairman, Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, has been notified that he received a discounted mortgage from the former Countrywide Financial Corp.

Sessions' spokeswoman, Torrie Miller, confirmed that the congressman was told that records show he received the discounts through Countrywide's VIP program.

Sessions becomes the fourth House member - and third Republican - whose records were sent to the House Ethics Committee for further investigation. The ethics panel will likely investigate whether the lawmakers received improper gifts and whether they performed any favorable actions for the lender. The four were notified by the House Oversight Committee.

Two of the Republicans play prominent roles: Sessions, as the person responsible for Republican efforts to maintain their House majority in the November elections and Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon of California, who has major influence over the defense budget as chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, wrote a letter to committee Chairman Darrell Issa, saying documents received by the committee indicate McKeon "obtained a significant discount on his VIP loan as a direct result of personal intervention by Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo."

McKeon spokeswoman Alissa McCurley said: "Mr. McKeon is committed to transparency on this. He believes that the actions of Countrywide should be looked into and wants to get to the bottom of what Countrywide did to his loan 13 years ago."

The others who received discounts are Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., and Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y. All four denied that they were aware of receiving any sweetheart deals from Countrywide.

Miller, the Sessions spokeswoman, said in a statement, "Out of an abundance of caution in managing his personal finances, Congressman Sessions specifically requested that he not be extended any special benefits or treatment from Countrywide.

"Everything about his experience suggests that his simple request was honored and that he was treated like every other customer. Congressman Sessions welcomes providing any details requested by any House Committee about this loan, which no longer exists."

Miller said Sessions received a $1 million loan in 2007 for his Texas home, but does not know whether that's the loan under investigation.

Countrywide, once the country's largest lender, played a major role in the collapse of the housing market because of its subprime mortgages. It was purchased by Bank of America, which has complied with a subpoena for Countrywide records from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. That panel turned the records over to the ethics committee.

While Countrywide was issuing its subprime mortgages, it was taking care of prominent individuals including government officials. Some of the VIP's were placed in a "Friends of Angelo" unit, a reference to then Countrywide CEO Mozilo.

Mozilo ended up paying a $67.5 million penalty in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/01/17/3376133/house-gop-chair-got-discounted.html#storylink=cpy
Approves.

 

whiskeyguy

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Well, I'm sure he'll be cleared just as quickly as Dodd and Conrad (two Democrats) were.

Issa demands details on Countrywide's VIP loan program
By Peter Schroeder - 02/16/11 06:31 PM ET
Bank of America will have to turn over all documents and records tied to Countrywide Financial's VIP lending program after House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) issued a subpoena for them Wednesday.

Issa announced the far-reaching subpoena, his first as chairman of the panel, and made clear that he wanted to know specifically what public employees or elected officials may have benefited from the program.

Issa is looking for all documents about the program, and is particularly interested in what "covered borrowers" were involved with the program.

That term refers to any borrower or borrower's spouse who was at the time the loan was issued a current or former employee of a government agency, member of Congress or employee of Congress, employee of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or an employee of a state or local government.

"Countrywide orchestrated a deliberate and calculated effort to use relationships with people in high places in order to manipulate public policy and further their bottom line to the detriment of the American taxpayers even at the expense of its own lending standards,” said Issa. "The American people have a right to know the totality of who participated in the Countrywide’s VIP program and what they did in return for access to it.”

Bank of America purchased Countrywide, which was failing financially, in 2008.

This is not the first time Countrywide's lending practices have come under Congressional scrutiny. The Oversight Committee, then chaired by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), probed the bank's "Friends of Angelo" program for government officials in the last Congress.

The Senate Ethics Committee examined and ultimately cleared retired Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) for receiving loans through the program. Both lawmakers denied any wrongdoing and said they did not ask for preferential treatment.

"Angelo" is a reference to Angelo Mozilo, Countrywide's former CEO.
http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-mon...ng-details-on-countrywides-vip-program?page=2
 

Josh_R

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Jan 29, 2005
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If a guy like Rangel can walk pretty much scot-free, I doubt these guys will get any kind of rebuke either.
You're probably right. What ever became of all the hullabaloo about Congressional insider trading? I guess everyone forgot all about that, too.
 

whiskeyguy

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You're probably right. What ever became of all the hullabaloo about Congressional insider trading? I guess everyone forgot all about that, too.
One thing Congress can unite on is keeping alive anything that helps themselves out.