How Countrywide Bought Politicians
More than a half a dozen current and former lawmakers, including Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), obtained mortgages through the Countrywide VIP program, in some cases saving thousands of dollars, according to the Issa report, set for release Thursday.Countrywide and Fannie Mae formed a strategic partnership in 1999. Former Fannie Mae CEO James Johnson, a well-known figure in Democratic Party circles who helped forge the close relationship with Countrywide, received more than $10 million in VIP loans. Fannie Mae’s collapse and subsequent bailout has cost U.S. taxpayers $93 billion-plus.
Officials at Freddie Mac, another mortgage-related Government-Sponsored Enterprise, received Countrywide VIP loans as well. Freddie Mac’s bailout has cost an additional $53 billion.
Other lawmakers who received Countrwide VIP loans include former Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.) and former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.). Dodd, who chaired the Senate Banking Committee, was identified as a Countrywide VIP going back to 1999, and he even referred an aide to a former GOP senator to the same program, Issa’s probe found.