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Countrywide bought influence with members of Congress

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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-05-12 07:57 AM
Original message
Countrywide bought influence with members of Congress

Apparently, it does not cost all that much to get members of Congress to sell out Americans, either.

Indeed, businesses have said that the most cost effective dollars they spend are the dollars they spend on the politicians we elect to watch out for our interests.

Is it soup, yet?

Jul. 5, 2012 3:10 AM ET
Report: Countrywide won influence with discounts
By LARRY MARGASAK, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) The former Countrywide Financial Corp., whose subprime loans helped start the nation's foreclosure crisis, made hundreds of discount loans to buy influence with members of Congress, congressional staff, top government officials and executives of troubled mortgage giant Fannie Mae, according to a House report.


Fannie Mae was responsible for purchasing a large volume of Countrywide's subprime mortgages. Countrywide was taken over by Bank of America in January 2008, relieving the financial services industry and regulators from the messy task of cleaning up the bankruptcy of a company that was servicing 9 million U.S. home loans worth $1.5 trillion at a time when the nation faced a widening credit crisis, massive foreclosures and an economic downturn.


"Documents and testimony obtained by the committee show the VIP loan program was a tool used by Countrywide to build goodwill with lawmakers and other individuals positioned to benefit the company," the report said. "In the years that led up to the 2007 housing market decline, Countrywide VIPs were positioned to affect dozens of pieces of legislation that would have reformed Fannie" and its rival Freddie Mac, the committee said.


The Justice Department has not prosecuted any Countrywide official, but the House committee's report said documents and testimony show that Mozilo and company lobbyists "may have skirted the federal bribery statute by keeping conversations about discounts and other forms of preferential treatment internal. Rather than making quid pro quo arrangements with lawmakers and staff, Countrywide used the VIP loan program to cast a wide net of influence."


Hit with staggering losses, Fannie and Freddie came under government control in September 2008. As of Dec. 31, 2011, the Treasury Department had committed more than $183 billion to support the two companies and there's no end in sight.

Among those who received loan discounts from Countrywide, the report said, were:

Former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

Mary Jane Collipriest, who was communications director for former Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, then a member of the Banking Committee. The report said Dodd referred Collipriest to Countrywide's VIP unit. Dodd, when commenting on his own loans, has said he was unaware of the discount program.

Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., former chairman of the Oversight Committee. Towns issued the first subpoena to Bank of America for Countrywide documents, and current Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., subpoenaed more documents. The committee said that in responding to the Towns subpoena, Bank of America left out documents related to Towns' loan.

Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif.

Top staff members of the House Financial Services Committee.

A staff member of Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, a member of the Financial Services Committee.

Former Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Calif.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretaries Alphonso Jackson and Henry Cisneros; and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala. The VIP unit processed Cisneros' loan after he joined Fannie's board of directors.

Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, was an exception. He told the VIP unit not to give him a discount, and he did not receive one.

Former Fannie Mae heads James Johnson, Daniel Mudd and Franklin Raines. Countrywide took a loss on Mudd's loan. Fannie employees were the most frequent recipients of VIP loans. Johnson received a discount after Mozilo waived problems with his credit rating.


Johnson in 2008 resigned as a leader of then-candidate Barack Obama's vice presidential search committee after The Wall Street Journal reported he had received $7 million in Countrywide discounted loans.

And silly us thought nothing in D.C. was bipartisan to that degree. (Actually, I haven't thought that in a while, as my longstanding sig line shows.)

Please read the entire article. I don't say that often, but, this is not a shiny object, like some gaffe. It goes to the heart of exactly why the 99% continually get shafted and therefore to the heart of what is wrong with this country.

And, I now recall defending 'my' candidate against the pumas when it came out that Obama had gotten a loan discount from the V.I.P. unit of a bank while senator.

Can't remember if that was when he was state senator or U.S. Senator at the time though.

Also recall defending him for getting such a nice discount on Chicago real estate from the now jailed Tony Rezco.

"But I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now..."

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DainBramaged Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-05-12 09:10 AM
Response to Original message
1. NO
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-06-12 12:56 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. I am not surprised they sold us out. I am surprised by how little it took to buy them.
Edited on Fri Jul-06-12 01:22 AM by No Elephants
And, while I am not surprised that staffers are bought and paid for, too, now that I read it, i had not focused on that before.

now that my attention has been directed there, it makes perfect sense. The staffers prepare summaries and reports for, and discuss things with, their elected bosses.

And, since no one on either side is surprised by corruption of both sides, which screws the majority of both Democrats and Republicans, I am surprised--or puzzled-- that so many Republican and Democratic constituents still play the "red team blue team" game.
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dtexdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-06-12 01:04 PM
Response to Original message
3. Bipartisan? Hell no!
It's a bloody competition to sell out to the corporations. In fact, it's that competition that keeps the price of sell-outs so low. ;-)
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-07-12 02:21 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Why do we accept it?
Boiling frog syndrome, perhaps?

I am tired frogs. I want a prince! (Not Charles, though.)
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