When Countrywide’s Friends of Angelo program got exposed for the first time last summer, the list of VIPs given preferential treatment because of their key connections to regulatory efforts in the federal government included two Senators who chaired committees overseeing the financial industry. Chris Dodd (Banking Committee) and Kent Conrad (Budget Committee, and also a member on Finance) both denied for a year that they had any idea that they received below-market rates on mortgages and other VIP considerations. Yesterday, Congress heard testimony that has exposed both men as liars:
Despite their denials, influential Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad and Chris Dodd were told from the start they were getting VIP mortgage discounts from one of the nation’s largest lenders, the official who handled their loans has told Congress in secret testimony. …
Robert Feinberg, who worked in the Countrywide’s VIP section, told congressional investigators last month that the two senators were made aware that “who you know is basically how you’re coming in here.” …
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.
Why does this matter? First, it exposes both Senators as complete liars on the subject. Conrad has kept more quiet about the matter, but Dodd has loudly insisted that he knew nothing about VIP treatment. Despite chairing the Banking Committee, which keeps tabs on the entire lending and banking industry, Dodd says he was unaware that he got below-market rates or expedited financing, especially on his second mortgage on another property, which should have cost him more time and money to acquire, especially on a Senator’s salary.
Dodd and Conrad had to deny the allegations, though, because to admit to them would have meant admitting to engaging in a gross conflict of interest. Countrywide needed greater oversight, as was made obvious in its eventual collapse, and both Dodd and Conrad had a fiduciary responsibility in their respective positions to pursue questions about Countrywide’s viability. Instead, they sucked freebies and sweetheart deals from a company that had business within the scope of their authority. That’s corruption no matter how one slices it.
The Breitbart report says that the Senate Ethics Committee heard testimony from Feinberg on this subject as well. It’s probably too much to ask the Democrat-controlled Senate to expel two of its corrupt members or even to punish them for their corruption in any meaningful way. Voters in Connecticut and North Dakota should remember that the pair sold out their constituents for cheap mortgages — and if the Democrats don’t do anything about it, voters in the rest of the US should take a lesson on how Democrats coddle the corrupt. (via Michelle)