I. Executive Summary
Bank of America (the Bank) produced more than 120,000 pages of documents in response to the subpoenas issued by Committee Chairmen Darrell Issa and Edolphus Towns. The documents produced by the Bank shed additional light on the scope and purpose of Countrywide’s VIP program, particularly as it related to the company’s strategic partnership with Fannie Mae.
In 1999, Countrywide reached an exclusive agreement to sell Fannie Mae billions of dollars in mortgages at a discounted rate. The agreement led to a period of codependence and mutual growth. Countrywide gave preferential treatment to Fannie Mae executives and employees. Loans being financed for Fannie Mae employees through an Employee Assistance Program were often transferred to Countrywide’s VIP unit for processing.
Between January 1996 and June 2008, Countrywide’s VIP loan unit made hundreds of loans to current and former Members of Congress, congressional staff, highranking government officials, and executives and employees of Fannie Mae, including Chairmen James “Jim” Johnson, Franklin Raines, and Daniel Mudd. VIPs who worked at Fannie Mae enjoyed expedited loan processing and pricing discounts. Countrywide also waived company guidelines for Fannie Mae’s senior executives to a greater extent than it did for “regular” VIPs.
Fannie Mae and Countrywide lobbied against government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) reform legislation that would have diminished Fannie Mae’s ability to acquire and hold subprime mortgages originated by Countrywide. Countrywide also lobbied against predatory lending bills. Documents obtained by the Committee show that several Members of Congress and congressional staff positioned to affect the legislation received VIP loans. In fact, Countrywide lobbyists – and CEO Angelo Mozilo himself – referred several Members and staff from the Senate Committee on Banking and the House Committee on Financial Services to the VIP unit. Those are the committees of primary jurisdiction for consideration of legislation related to the mortgage industry and the GSEs.
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. Countrywide gave VIP loans to former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd; Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad; and Mary Jane Collipriest, Communications Director for former Senator Robert Bennett, who served on the Banking Committee. Dodd referred Collipriest to the VIP unit.
Countrywide also forged relationships with Members and staff of the U.S. House of Representatives. The VIP unit processed loans for Congressmen Howard “Buck” McKeon; Pete Sessions; Edolphus Towns; and Elton Gallegly.
Documents show Countrywide enrolled House Financial Services Committee Staff Director Joseph Ventrone and General Counsel Clinton Jones in the VIP loan program. Jones was a trusted ally of Fannie Mae during GSE reform deliberations. Documents also show that in early 2005, Countrywide gave a discounted loan to a staffer in the office of Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, who has served on the Financial Services Committee since 2001. Former Rep. Tom Campbell received a VIP loan in 1997. Fannie Mae’s targeted lobbying campaign supplemented Countrywide’s outreach to Committee Members and staff. The GSE assigned as many as 70 lobbyists to the Financial Services Committee while it considered GSE reform legislation in 2000 – 2005. During the 108th Congress, four GSE reform bills were introduced in the House. None made it out of the Financial Services Committee.
Countrywide also had favorable relationships with key decision makers in the Executive Branch. Two former Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development received VIP loans – Alphonso Jackson and Henry Cisneros. The VIP unit processed Cisneros’s loan after he joined the company’s Board of Directors. Jim Johnson referred former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala to the VIP unit.
The documents produced by the Bank show that VIP borrowers received paperwork from Countrywide that clearly identified the VIP unit as the point of contact. The conspicuous markings on documents provided to VIP borrowers made it clear that Countrywide’s VIP unit was processing their loans. It was also the practice of staff in the VIP unit to identify themselves as such on the phone.
Full report below…
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