Anderson Cooper on CNN, October 2011
Hmmm....can you say "conflict of interest"?
Between January 1996 and June 2008, Countrywide Financial, the scrapped mortgage arm of Bank of America, exercised its influence by handing out hundreds of discounted VIP loans to key Congressional members, White House employees, Fannie Mae executives, and other high-ranking government officials and staffers.
Traditionally, Countrywide used its VIP Loan program to process loans for company executives and their friends, but a new report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform shows the program was also used to incentivize members of Congress, including former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, Former Republican California Rep. Tom Campbell, New York Democrat Rep. Edolphus Towns and California Republican Rep. Elton Gallegly.
"Countrywide's VIP unit processed loans for key senators and Senate staff who could be helpful when legislation that affected the company was drafted or up for a vote," the report explains.
The report reveals Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, along with a number of lobbyists, often connected members of the Senate Committee on Banking and the House Committee on Financial Services to the company's VIP program in California, which handled the company's favored clients. In some cases, the report says lawmakers and executives saved thousands of dollars on their loans through the program.
So while economists like Paul Krugman warned that serious consequences would be felt if nothing was done to constrain the insanity of the housing bubble, Congress went blithely along, ignoring all the warning signs and doing nothing.
Nothing but cashing in on sweetheart deals of their own, while the economy went down the toilet and impoverished millions of Americans.