Conrad, Dodd Deny Mortgage Improprieties
Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Tuesday continued to deny any wrongdoing amid revelations that two Congressional committees are looking into whether they received preferential mortgage deals from Countrywide Financial.
Conrad told reporters he had no idea he was in a VIP program until after he brokered his third mortgage with Countrywide and noticed a VIP card attached to his loan documents.
“I got a packet back and it had a VIP card stapled to it, which was a surprise to me,— Conrad said. “I had no idea I was in such a program, and I thought, Well, this is like a frequent-flyer program.’ I thought nothing of it. I was a little surprised to see this card on the folder that had my documents, but I did not know before then I was in any special program.—
In obtaining a loan on a vacation property, Conrad personally called Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, after being referred by a friend.
Conrad, however, said: “My conscience is absolutely clear. I have done nothing unethical. Nothing.—
Similarly, Dodd insisted he was offered “market rates, no sweetheart deals— from Countrywide.
The issue has dogged Conrad and Dodd for more than a year, but resurfaced this week when Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released a partial transcript of an interview staff conducted with Dodd’s and Conrad’s loan officer, Robert Feinberg.
In the transcript, Feinberg asserts that both Senators knew they were receiving preferential treatment, such as waived fees that otherwise might have cost them tens of thousands of dollars. The two were in what Feinberg described as a VIP program known as “Friends of Angelo,— for then-Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo.
“Any person, FOA, VIP, whatever they were that was coming through there, it was always instilled in them to let them know their sense of importance of where they were. And that you are were a friend of Angelo’s. You were referred by Angelo. You were approved by Angelo,— Feinberg told House investigators. “Also, as I stated earlier, when the loan comes out of the VIP processing unit, their business cards are stapled in loan packages. It says VIP Supervisor,’ VIP Underwriter.’—
The Senate Ethics Committee has also interviewed Feinberg, according to published reports.
Conrad and Dodd said they have submitted loan documents to the Ethics panel as well as answered written questions. Though Dodd said he does not expect to testify in person before the committee, Conrad said he would welcome the opportunity.
Jessica Brady contributed to this report.