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Odd Subpoena Imperils Inquiry

“One thing that will augur in the Members’ favor is if these same sort of Friends of Angelo discounts were given to non-Members, celebrities, athletes,” Kappel said, referring to the loan designation designed by Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo to curry favor with specific customers. “It’s not so much an attempt to buy influence as it is a marketing device.”

Van Der Meid echoed that anticipation: “You only really can look at something like that in the overall context of whether a Member was getting something that he or she knew was a special gift.”

But he noted that any investigation initiated by the ethics panel could extend to a Member’s annual financial disclosures, as well as whether a Member who received a VIP loan took actions favorable to Countrywide.

It is not known how many House lawmakers may have received mortgages via Countrywide’s special division. According to personal financial disclosure forms filed by House lawmakers in mid-2008, the last such reports filed before Congressional involvement in the VIP loan program was first reported by Portfolio.com, at least a dozen Members held Countrywide-issued mortgages.

Financial disclosure forms filed by House lawmakers do not reveal every mortgage, however, because Members are not required to list property that does not generate rental or other income.

But among those lawmakers whose mortgages could come under review is Towns himself.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that Towns may have received loans via that Countrywide program, citing mortgage documents that showed an address and branch number corresponding to the VIP program.

At that time, a Towns aide said Towns was not aware of whether his loans, including a mortgage of a Lutz, Fla., home, were processed through the VIP program and said he received no special treatment.

The subpoena requires Bank of America to submit all documents by Nov. 6.

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