Lawmakers benefited from VIP mortgages
TALK RADIO NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON - The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday released a report revealing that mortgage company Countrywide offered members of Congress and their staff preferential treatment and discounted loans.
Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that a Countrywide lobbyist routinely referred high profile Washington policy figures – including some members of Congress and their staff – to the company’s VIP unit to receive enhanced customer service.
“The committee’s investigation found Countrywide lobbyists and CEO Angelo Mozilo used discounted loans as a tool to ingratiate itself with policymakers in an effort to benefit the company’s business interests,” said Issa in a statement. “A former lobbyist for Countrywide testified that members of Congress, staff, and other government officials were directed to the company’s VIP program as part of an effort to create a favorable impression of the company on Capitol Hill. This preferential treatment – that varied depending on the influence of the borrower – was not routinely offered to the public.”
The report found that Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), former Sen. Chris Dodd (D.Conn.),Reps. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.) received preferential treatment and discounted mortgage loans form Countrwide’s VIP program. In total, more than 29 loans were offered to 12 different lawmakers and their staffs at a discounted rate not available to most of the public.
The report also shed light on Countrywide’s tight-knit relationship with Fannie Mae and how it used its VIP program most frequently for Fannie Mae executives, strengthening its relationship with its taxpayer-backed business partner.
“Even as Countrywide’s CEO Mozilo mocked Fannie Mae and top executives for its crony capitalism business model, he would nonetheless personally intercede to ensure executives had access to discounted Countrywide loans,” Issa said. “These relationships helped Mozilo increase his own company’s profits while dumping the risk of bad loans on taxpayers.”
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