Top GOP oversight official Darrell Issa is issuing his first subpoena as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to demand documents related to a “VIP” program that gave key lawmakers special deals on mortgages.
The subpoena will reveal for the first time the scope of the company’s VIP program and could ensnare scores of lawmakers, congressional staffers, officials and lobbyists. Sen. Kent Conrad and former-Sen. Chris Dodd received special deals, as did dozens of top Fannie Mae executives.
An Issa report on the sweetheart deals says, “legislators, congressional staffers, lobbyists and other opinion leaders…business partners, local politicians, home builders, entertainers and law enforcement officials” were part of the program. Until now, the public has learned the names of only a few.
The special deals are important because they could have influenced lawmakers and other officials in their actions on the booming sub-prime loan industry in the years before the bubble burst, contributing to the financial crisis.
“Involvement in the VIP loan program casts a cloud of suspicion over the actions – or in many instances non-actions – of those charged with policy-making, legislative, or oversight responsibility for the mortgage industry and the GSEs,” Issa said in the report.
The subpoena covers a wide range of documents and emails relating to the sweetheart deals including those detailing who was a member of the program and how Countrywide notified them of their membership.
“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.”
Countrywide went on to lose billions of dollars in the financial crisis.