It’s been more than three years since it was revealed that Angelo Mozilo, the curiously orange former CEO of Countrywide Financial, provided discounted loans to U.S. Senators and other VIPs. But it wasn’t until last February that the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform got around to finding out if members of Congress might have scored the special treatment. Their findings: Yes, four House members were involved; and no, we’re not yet saying who it was.
Committee chair Rep. Darrell Issa of California wrote to the House Ethics Committee on Friday, suggesting they investigate the matter fully. He also left open the possibility that there might have been more than the four currently anonymous Congresspersons.
These legislators and other members of Mozilo’s “Friends of Angelo” list received deeply discounted loans from the lender which was taken over by Bank of America after it faield fabulously in 2008.
In addition to that VIP list, which was under Mozilo’s control, Issa says there were other people who received similar discounts from others at Countrywide.
“Testimony and documents show that Countrywide used the VIP program to build relationships with government officials and others positioned to advance Countrywide’s business interests,” wrote Issa’s to Ethics Chairman Jo Bonner of Alabama and ranking Democrat Linda Sanchez of California. “Between January 1996 and June 2008, Countrywide’s VIP unit gave discounted loans to employees of the federal government, including the U.S. Congress.”
It’s now up to the Ethics Committee to decide whether to pursue further investigations of whether or not these members of Congress stepped over the line by accepting low-rate loans from Mozilo. If it believes that a criminal investigation is merited, it can refer cases to the Dept. of Justice.
The Senate Ethics Committee cleared two Senators Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Kent Conrad of North Dakota of wrongdoing, though it did say both lawmakers shouldn’t have been so stupid and shouldn’t take money from someone with the skin of an Oompa Loompa.
Since we don’t know which members of Congress could be involved in this mess, feel free to speculate wildly in the comments.