…Oh, wait. That’s Senator Al Franken. Sorry.
No, I was actually referring to Senators Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad, both of whom received “sweetheart” mortgage deals under the Countrywide Mortgage scheme widely referred to as the “Friends of Angelo” program (referring to Countrywide’s CEO, Angelo Mozilo).
Both Dodd and Conrad have loudly declared their ignorance of such special treatment, assuming that the lower-than-usual interest rates, expedited handling, and other special considerations were par for the course for any borrower. Of course.
But it seems that just ain’t so. Bretibart reports that Robert Feinbert, a Countrywide employee in their “VIP section” has testified that both Dodd and Conrad were well aware of the perks they were receiving:
Both senators have said that at the time the mortgages were being written they didn’t know they were getting unique deals from Countrywide Financial Corp., the company that went on to lose billions of dollars on home loans to credit-strapped borrowers. Dodd still maintains he got no preferential treatment….
Both senators were VIP borrowers in the program known as “friends” of Angelo…
Feinberg said in his deposition with House investigators last month that exceptions for the type of loan Conrad received were not allowed for borrowers outside the VIP system.
Asked by a House investigator if Conrad, the North Dakota senator, “was aware that he was getting preferential treatment?” Feinberg answered: “Yes, he was aware.”
Referring to Dodd, the investigator asked:
“And do you know if during the course of your communications” with the senator or his wife “that you ever had an opportunity to share with them if they were getting special VIP treatment?”
“Yes, yes,” Feinberg replied…
“If there was a regular customer calling, and of course you say, ‘No, we’re a residential lender. We cannot provide you with that service,'” Feinberg said.
Feinberg also told House investigators that Countrywide counted both of Dodd’s’ homes as primary residences.
“He was allowed to do both of those as owner-occupied, which is not allowed. You can only have one owner-occupied property. You can’t live in two properties at the same time,” he said.
Normally, Feinberg said, a second home could require more equity and could have a higher mortgage rate.
But why does this matter? It matters because this has been dragging on for over a year now, and therefore it’s one more item that we the taxpayers are footing the bill for. It matters because Dodd and Conrad hold positions of trust, not just as Senators but as chairman of the Banking Committee and the Budget Committee respectively.
If these two accept the handouts, the lagniappes, the special perks offered them because of their status, how can we expect them to lead their committees honestly and participate in creating legislation that contributes to the betterment of American society? Short answer: we can’t, and we shouldn’t.
Finally, it matters because no-one is watching the watchmen; and these watchmen (and others like them) are getting more corrupt every day.