Darrell Issa, from Vista!
From the WSJ:
U.S. senators or Senate employees received 30 loans—far more than had previously been known—under a controversial lending program at Countrywide Financial Corp. that provided cut-rate terms to favored borrowers.
The information is contained in a letter sent to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics by Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), who has been spearheading the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s investigation into Countrywide’s so-called VIP mortgage program.
No specific loan recipients were named in the letter. But Mr. Issa’s letter said borrowers on a dozen loans listed their place of employment as the office of “Senator Robert Bennett.” Available public records don’t indicate that Sen. Bennett, a Utah Republican and member of the Senate Banking Committee, received a Countrywide home loan.
Sens. Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D., N.D.), have previously been identified among the high-profile individuals who received such loans. Both senators have denied wrongdoing. Until the Issa letter, no other senators or their staff members had been linked to the VIP loan program.
The VIP program operated during the housing boom earlier this decade, often writing mortgages with terms more favorable than those available to the general public. An estimated 28,000 loans were made, mostly to private parties such as Countrywide employees or their friends and relatives.
The House Oversight panel, where Mr. Issa is the ranking Republican member, is probing whether such loans were issued to public officials in an attempt to influence them. Last year, the committee subpoenaed VIP loan records from Bank of America.
In his letter dated July 13, Mr. Issa wrote that on seven loans not tied to Mr. Bennett’s office, the borrowers listed their place of employment as “U.S. Senator.” Another 11 listed the “U.S. Senate.” In response to questions, a spokesman for Mr. Issa said the House committee didn’t receive the names of the borrowers from Bank of America.
More than one loan could have gone to the same person, such as a mortgage and a separate home-equity line of credit. Mr. Conrad received four Countrywide loans, a spokesman for the senator said. Mr. Dodd reportedly received at least two. Their loans were presumably included in the 30.
Mr. Issa’s efforts to investigate the VIP loan program were stymied for a time by the unwillingness of the House oversight panel’s chairman, New York Democrat Edolphus Towns, to issue a subpoena to Bank of America for the VIP program records.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has a pending civil fraud suit against three former top company executives, including longtime Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo. The three have denied wrongdoing, and a trial is scheduled for October in a Los Angeles federal court.