Dodd and Conrad: Worse than we thought
by kosnomore, Sat Jun 14, 2008 at 09:59:40 AM EDT
Yesterday, I diary-ed about Senators Dodd's and Conrad's "VIP" mortgages from Countrywide. Basically, Sen. Chris Dodd, chair of the Banking Committee, and Sen. Kent Conrad, chair of the Budget Committee and a member of the Finance Committee, allegedly refinanced properties through corrupt, insolvent, predatory Countrywide's "V.I.P." program, receiving reduced fees, points and closing costs.
Those who put partisanship above patriotism, and party loyalty above ethical standards, dismissed the report, and attacked the messenger, because the senators "only" received $2700 and $10,000, respectively. See yesterday's comments.
But see today's new disclosures.
Yes, Dodd "only" received $2,700 in interest rate discounts. But, PER YEAR FOR THIRTY YEARS.
And, Conrad "only" received $10,000 in interest rate discounts. But, PER YEAR FOR THIRTY YEARS.
And, Conrad didn't just happen to get the favorable preferential rate given to good customers. He called the CEO of Countrywide directly for the loan. He didn't call a loan officer or an underwriter or a mortgage broker or even the branch manager. Conrad called the CEO of the whole darn company. That's what's called strong arm tactics. Did Conrad call the CEO of a regulated industry to hear him say, "Well, my chair, we can't do anything special for you, we have to treat you like everyone else?" And, if Conrad wanted to be treated like everyone else, why did he call the CEO?
And, Countrywide in fact made an exception in lending Conrad $96,000 in 2004 to buy an 8-unit apartment building from his brothers. The company had a policy of only providing loans for buildings of four units or fewer. Conrad says, "They said they frequently made exceptions, especially for good customers." In fact, an internal e-mail from the CEO said the exception was "due to the fact that the borrower is a senator."
Folks, this is where the rubber hits the road. Are we going to change the culture in Washington, or are we going to excuse and ignore crony-ism and corruption from members of our team?
I've been a Democrat all my life, and not because I was waiting for our turn to be abusive. I've been waiting for our turn to run an honest and ethical and moral government, front top to bottom, all three national branches and both houses of Congress, federal, state and local.
As I said yesterday, Dodd and Conrad need to resign their chairs. TODAY. And, Obama needs to call for it. TODAY. It will prove to the public that we're not just full of hot air. And it won't let the Republicans change the subject when we go forward with mortgage relief legislation.