CBS News did an in-depth report on the Friends of Angelo program at Countrywide last week, but Doug Ross notes that they buried the lede. CBS waited until the final paragraph of a good, detailed look at Angelo Mozilo’s aggressive campaign to provide loans for political power players to report the bombshell of the report:
Democrats are blocking a Republican effort to subpoena Countrywide documents. For now, it’s not clear whether there was anything illegal about the loan arrangements or whether Countrywide was able to fend off regulations by currying favor with the right people.
Wait — didn’t the Democrats say that they wanted to get to the bottom of the financial crisis and the meltdown of the housing bubble that caused it? Didn’t Democrats like Barack Obama cast Countrywide as one of the chief villains of the drama? Yes, he did:
Of course, immediately afterward, Obama picked Jim Johnson to head his VP search committee, even though Johnson got millions in loans from Countrywide while serving as Fannie Mae CEO. Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad got outed as big beneficiaries of Mozilo’s program as well. CBS says that there were plenty of others joining them in getting perqs for power:
Some of the most flagrant connections were with the House Financial Services Committee, which had oversight authority over Countrywide.
A chief counsel for the committee, Clinton Jones, got VIP treatment, and internal Countrywide emails leave no doubt as to why: “Jones is … an advisor to ranking Republican members of Congress responsible for legislation of interest to the (financial services) industry and of importance to Countrywide.”
A committee aide asked Countrywide to help his sister and brother-in-law after they got turned down for refinancing. Countrywide obliged calling the staffer “an aide to a senior member of the House Financial Services (Committee)” – a big supporter of Countrywide’s – “and very important to us.”
Joyce Brayboy, the Chief of Staff for Rep. Melvin Watt was funneled into Countrywide’s VIP program. Countrywide’s lobbyist urged the loan officer to “carefully” handle the loan saying Brayboy “reports directly to Congressman Mel Watt who introduced predatory lending legislation to address unscrupulous lending practices, and they do view Countryside as a trusted advisor.” Watt serves on the House Financial Services Committee.
With all of those connections to the Democratic Party, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Democrats don’t want the Friends of Angelo program’s details coming out in subpoenaed documents. However, confirmation of that fact should be bigger news than a single line at the end of this report. Which Democrats are blocking the subpoenas?