Countrywide Probe is Chance for Ethics Committee to do 'Something Significant'

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Edolphus Towns photoIt appears that four current members of the United States House of Representatives received loans via the VIP program of Countrywide Financial Corporation. Once again the motives of the former giant mortgage institution have been brought into question. Where they trying to peddle influence with these loans?

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and he has been investigating the VIP program for a number years. Issa reportedly learned about the four loans after issuing a subpoena to Bank of America. Countrywide was purchased by Bank of America in 2008 and was at the forefront of the financial crisis that came to a head that year. At one point Countrywide was the nation's largest mortgage lender.

In 2009 the Security and Exchange Commission brought a fraud suit against a number of former executives of Countrywide including its former chief executive Angelo Mozilo. In 2010, Mozilo agreed to pay over $65 million dollars. He did not admit or deny wrongdoing although in the past had done just that.

Former Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota received loans from Countrywide and while both claim there was nothing wrong with their loans, Dodd chose not to run for reelection in 2010 and Conrad has decided to step aside after his term ends next year.

Chairman Issa informed the House Ethics Committee that he was alerting its members to "possible wrongdoing" by these four members of the lower chamber. The names of the four in question were not released by Mr. Issa and the Ethics Committee has a policy of not commenting on specific allegations. The only member of the US House who has been connected to the VIP program is Democrat Edolphus Towns of New York, in photo.

NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm commented, "This is a chance for the Ethics Committee to really do something significant. Over the years it has devoted much time and resources to probing the nickel and dime scams of various members of Congress. Countrywide, through the political influence it was able to buy, helped precipitate the real estate crisis and financial meltdown. This should be a priority investigation, and the consequences should be severe for the offenders, if they are found guilty of violating House rules."

Boehm continued, "The Senate Ethics Committe covered up for Dodd and Conrad. The House can provide a contrast by doing the right thing."