Skip to comments.Chris Dodd Under Investigation for Sweetheart Mortgage Deal
Posted on 10/31/2008 3:47:35 PM PDT by randita
Chris Dodd Under Investigation for Sweetheart Mortgage Deal
NBC news reports that the Justice Department has begun an investigation into whether Countrywide Financial Corp used the 'Friends of Angelo (Mozilo)' program to buy influence with Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and others. According to a senior Countrywide official who handled its VIP program, there was no way Dodd and Conrad could not have known they were getting a special deal:
...Feinberg says part of his job was to hammer home to the V.I.P. clients that they were getting special deals.
"You spoke in a manner that was different than you spoke with a regular customer," said Feinberg. "'Your loan has been specially priced by Angelo.' 'You're getting special discounts because you're in the V.I.P. loan department."
So what would a "Friend of Angelo" get that an average customer would not? According to Feinberg, the possible benefits ran the gamut.
"They got a discount on the interest rate," said Feinberg. "They got discounts on their fees. They got a free floatdown option before closing..."
"There were many, many taglines we used to let them know their level of importance to make sure that they understand where they're located," said Feinberg. "And nine times out of ten, once you mention 'V.I.P' the person's gonna ask you 'what am i getting for being in this V.I.P department?' Or 'what am I getting because I know Angelo?' Or 'I talked to Angelo and he said I'm getting this...'"
Feinberg says he's not aware of any discounts linked to favors, but he did see e-mails noting the potential value of the relationships to Countrywide's political and business interests. The e-mails noted one particular client was "of importance to Countrywide." Another encouraged a discount, noting "they are incredibly important to us." Yet another asked that the loan officer, "make an exception" in Countrywide's lending rules, "due to the fact that the borrower is a Senator."
If Dodd and Conrad somehow missed the special treatment they were receiving, Feinberg's testimony suggests that it was only because they chose not to listen. Nevertheless, Dodd is still refusing to release the paperwork related to his loans--information he promised to share weeks ago.
Frog march I tell you. Frog march!
Since June, Sen Dodd has faced an ethics inquiry over allegations that he received preferential treatment on two mortgages in 2003 from major lender, Countrywide Financial. And then came the dramatic financial meltdown last month, placing Dodd at the center of a controversial $700 billion financial rescue plan.
As a member and later chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. shoulders a good deal of the blame for the collapse of the national housing market, the subprime-mortgage-market meltdown and the convulsions on Wall Street.
Reams of legislation Dodd has written or advocated affecting the housing, lending, insurance and securities industries have drained hundreds of billions out of the economy, ballooned the federal debt, cost tens of thousands of people their jobs and driven hundreds of thousands of homeowners into foreclosure, bankruptcy or both.
For his efforts, Sen. Dodd has been rewarded in the 2008 election cycle alone with $7.65 million in campaign contributions (he took in $11.7 million in all) from the securities, insurance, real-estate and commercial-banking industries. With $165,400, Sen. Dodd also tops the list of members of Congress who took campaign cash from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since 1989. Sen. Barack Obama, the self-styled agent of change, is a distant second at $126,000....
SEN DODD'S CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTORS
SAC Capital Partners, $282,000;
United Technologies, $263,400;
Bear Stearns, $205,600;
St. Paul Travelers, $205,400;
Royal Bank of Scotland, $203,750;
Goldman Sachs, $175,600;
Morgan Stanley, $155,000;
Credit Suisse, $154,550;
Merrill Lynch, $134,950;
The Hartford, $94,350;
Bank of America, $91,300;
JPMorgan Chase, $129,150;
Hartford Finance Services, $101,500
Lehman Brothers, $128,400;
General Electric, $108,250;
Deloitte Touche, $108,000
"America is a nation without a distinct criminal class... with the possible exception of Congress."