Top Democrats Charged with Fannie Mae Oversight – Took “Special Loans”

Dems deny knowing loans had VIP rates

Friday, June 13th 2008, 8:55 PM

WASHINGTON – The two key Democratic senators who reportedly got sweetheart deals on mortgages from Countrywide Financial Corp. said Friday that they didn’t know they were getting special treatment.

Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Banking Committee, and North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad, chairman of the Budget Committee and a member of the Finance Committee, both tapped into a little-known program that waived points, lender fees and bent borrowing rules for VIPs, Portfolio magazine reported Thursday.

“As a United States senator, I would never ask or expect to be treated differently than anyone else refinancing their home,” Dodd said in a statement.

The lawmakers’ participation in the VIP program came to light just days after similar revelations about Jim Johnson, one of Sen. Barack Obama‘s vice presidential vetters, led to his resignation.

Conrad, the Budget Committee chairman, said it was Johnson who referred him to Countrywide in 2002.

“If they did me a favor, they did it without my knowledge and without my requesting it,” Conrad said.

Countrywide, whose overaggressive lending policies helped fuel the mortgage crisis and led to the devaluation of its stock from $45 a share to $5, reportedly is being investigated by the FBI for securities fraud.

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