Members of Congress Received “VIP” Loans from Countrywide

Sunday, July 08, 2012
Sen. Kent Conrad
Before it nearly imploded and was bought out by Bank of America during the 2008 financial crisis, Countrywide Financial used a VIP program to loan money to members of Congress as a way to influence their decision-making.
At least seven current and former lawmakers accepted loans from the mortgage company, according to a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Senators accepting the loans were Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, and Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut), who is now out of office.
House members were Buck McKeon (R-California), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Edolphus Towns (D-New York), Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Elton Gallegly (R-California) and Tom Campbell (R-California), who has since left Congress.
Countrywide also gave loans to key congressional staffers and executive branch officials, as well as senior executives at Fannie Mae, the government-sponsored mortgage giant that was bailed out by Washington.
Most of the lawmakers who received VIP loans also accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Countrywide.
They were Sessions ($38,750), Dodd ($20,000), McKeon ($18,000), Gallegly ($16,120), Conrad ($9,000) and Towns ($3,500).
The chief advantage of VIP loans was the reduction of points and the waiving of other fees. Rep. Sessions accepted his loan, but declined the VIP discount.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
How Countrywide Used its VIP Loan Program To Influence Washington Policymakers (House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) (pdf)
Issa Report: VIP Loans Brought Influence (by John Bresnahan, Politico)


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