Conrad Will Donate Waived Loan Fees

Posted June 14, 2008 at 5:24pm

Sen. Kent Conrad (D) announced Saturday that he will donate more than $10,000 to charity after revelations that lender Countrywide Financial waived mortgage fees for the North Dakotan, although Conrad continued to state he was unaware of the discount before news reports appeared late last week.

“After reviewing the e-mail traffic at Countrywide provided to me by reporters, it appears Countrywide waived one point on my mortgage,” Conrad said in a statement Saturday. “Although I did not ask for or know that I was receiving a discount, and even though I was offered a competitive loan from another lender, I do not want to have received preferential treatment. Therefore I am writing a check today to Habitat for Humanity for $10,500.”

The Democratic lawmaker also announced that he will refinance a second mortgage on an eight-unit apartment building in Bismarck, N.D., after it was revealed that Countrywide had violated its own rules in issuing the loan. The lender typically issues mortgages only for buildings with four units or fewer.

“I believe the evidence showed that I paid more than full market rates on that loan,” said Conrad, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee. “But I do not want to leave any impression that I have received preferential treatment in my personal business dealings.”

According to a report first published by Portfolio magazine on Thursday, internal company e-mails show that Countrywide waived thousands of dollars in fees or otherwise granted special rates to select “VIPs” including Conrad and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. No other lawmakers were named in the report.

Both Conrad and Dodd vigorously denied any wrongdoing on Friday and have stated that they did not ask for and were unaware that they had received any unusual discounts. In a statement, Dodd said: “As a United States Senator, I would never ask or expect to be treated differently than anyone else refinancing their home. This suggestion is outrageous and contrary to my entire career in public service.”

“When my wife and I refinanced our loans in 2003, we did not seek or expect any favorable treatment,” he continued. “Just like millions of other Americans, we shopped around and received competitive rates.”

A Dodd spokesman declined to comment further Friday, and did not answer whether Dodd would donate funds to charity or otherwise seek to repay the alleged discount.