In re: to Sen. Dodd’s claim that he thought his Countrywide VIP status was a “courtesy” and didn’t mean he was getting anything that special, check out this WSJ piece.
A former Countrywide Financial loan officer, Robert Feinberg, has come forward saying Dodd knowingly saved thousands on his 2003 re-fi’s as “part of a special program the California mortgage company had for the influential.”
He says he’s in possession of internal company docs proving Dodd knew full well he was getting very preferential treatment as a “Friend of Angelo” Mozilo, Countrywide’s then-CEO.
From the WSJ piece:
“People are referred into that department as ‘very important people.’ You’re told that your loan is priced from Angelo. As the ‘Friends of Angelo department,’ [the department] has to give them a sense of importance and explain the reduction of fees and the rate as a result of being a ‘Friend of Angelo,’” [Feinberg] says. According to a report by Dan Golden in Condé Nast Portfolio in August, other VIPs included Senator Kent Conrad. Mr. Golden reported that “Countrywide also offered special discounts to congressional staffers involved in housing issues.”
As to Mr. Dodd, Mr. Feinberg says he spoke to the Senator once or twice and mostly to his wife and that like other FOAs Mr. Dodd got “a float down,” which means that even after he had a preferred rate, when the prevailing rate dropped just before the closing, his rate was reduced again. Regular borrowers would pay extra for a last-minute adjustment, but not FOAs. “They were aware of it because they were notified and when they went to the closing they would see it,” Mr. Feinberg says, adding that he “always let people in the program know that they were getting a very good deal because they were ‘Friends of Angelo.’”
One indicator of [Dodd's] influence is the $165,400 in campaign contributions — more than to any other politician — that Fan and Fred have given him since 1989, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. These contributions are legal.
But favors like those Mr. Dodd is alleged to have received may not be.
Mr. Feinberg says he went public with his story because when he heard Senator Dodd on TV talking about predatory lending, he felt it was “hypocritical” and he says, “I just thought, ‘This is wrong.’”