Lawmaker Blocking Countrywide Subpoena Received Loans From Firm
By Lorraine Woellert
Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The chairman of a U.S. House committee who has refused Republican requests to subpoena Countrywide Financial Corp. over questions about preferential treatment for lawmakers received at least two loans from the company, records show.
One of the loans to Representative Edolphus Towns, a New York Democrat, was processed through an office the company used to prepare so-called VIP loans, according to public mortgage documents. Towns, as head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has rejected calls from Republicans to subpoena the company for details of the VIP program.
“Congressman Towns did not receive, nor did he seek, any special mortgage benefits,” Towns spokeswoman Shrita Sterlin said in an e-mail yesterday. “We have no reason to believe there is anything to this matter.”
The Senate Ethics Committee yesterday said Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, both Democrats, didn’t violate ethics rules when they refinanced their home mortgages with Countrywide Financial Corp. While finding “no substantial credible evidence” that the transactions violated the standards, the panel said the two senators should have “exercised more vigilance” to “avoid the appearance” of preferential treatment.
Towns has cited the investigation by the Senate panel as a reason for not issuing a subpoena.
Towns, 75, and his wife Gwendolyn refinanced their home in Lutz, Florida, in September 2003 with a $183,000 loan from Countrywide, according to mortgage documents filed in Hillsborough County, Florida.
Two weeks later, the couple borrowed about $190,000 from Countrywide against their Brooklyn home, according to New York City records.
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