WASHINGTON. D.C. – In December of 2008, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA), then the Committee’s Ranking Member, launched an investigation into Countrywide Financial Corporation’s infamous VIP and Friends of Angelo Program that exposed the inner workings of Countrywide’s efforts to buy friends in critical government and industry positions affecting the company’s business interests. Today, Chairman Issa issued a wide-ranging subpoena to Bank of America for all documents and records related to Countrywide’s VIP program.
“Countrywide orchestrated a deliberate and calculated effort to use relationships with people in high places in order to manipulate public policy and further their bottom line to the detriment of the American taxpayers even at the expense of its own lending standards,” said Issa. “This subpoena will allow us to obtain the information needed to answer the outstanding public interest questions regarding the full size and scope of the VIP program. The American people have a right to know the totality of who participated in the Countrywide’s VIP program and what they did in return for access to it. Our role is to get all of the facts so that the American people can judge for themselves who should be held responsible and accountable.”
The subpoena compels Bank of America to produce the following by noon on March 7, 2011:
- All documents, including emails, related to covered borrowers serviced by Countrywide Financial through the Branch 850 and/or VIP and/or Friends of Angelo program.
- All documents, including e-mails, transmitted by Countrywide officials notifying a covered borrower of membership in the VIP and/or Friends of Angelo program.
- All documents, including e-mails, transmitted between and among Countrywide officials discussing the purposes and goals of the VIP and/or Friends of Angelo program.
- Documents sufficient to show the number of persons enrolled in the VIP and/or Friends of Angelo program for each of calendar years 1996-2008, and the city and state of residence of such persons who were covered borrowers.
The term “covered borrowers” means at the time of the loan the borrower, or their spouse, was:
- A current or former officer or employee of a federal agency
- A current or former Member, officer, or employee of the U.S. Congress
- A current or former officer or employee of a government-sponsored enterprise
- A current or former officer or employee of a state or local government
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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the new Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued his first subpoena: it’s in the investigation of the Countrywide scandal.
Details of the subpoena might make more than a few powerful people nervous. This is the first time anyone has sought records regarding all government officials who may have benefitted from the so-called “Friends of Angelo” and other VIP programs that Countrywide had. Congressional investigations have revealed Countrywide extended favorable terms to powerful shakers-and-movers in government in hopes of wielding influence.
In the past, when his party was a less-influential minority in the House, Issa pushed for a wide-ranging subpoena of Countrywide documents. But he was rebuffed by then-Chairman Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.). As CBS News previously reported in 2009, Towns was one of the VIP’s who received loans from Countrywide. Towns eventually agreed to issuing a subpoena, but it was much narrower than Issa requested, and did not include gathering information on public officials.
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