Two influential US senators got "VIP" loans from a leading subprime mortgage lender that saved them tens of thousands of dollars, it was reported Thursday.
The Democratic pols, Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Kent Conrad of North Dakota, both received the highly favorable loans under the designation "Friend of Angelo," a reference to embattled Countrywide head Angelo Mozilo, Condé Nast Portfolio reported.
Dodd is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, while Conrad is chairman of the Budget Committee and a member of the Finance Committee. The two senators refinanced properties through the VIP program in 2003 and 2004, the report said.
Others who received "FOA" loans include Alphonso Jackson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bush who resigned in April, and Donna Shalala, who was secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration.
The report came one day after Democratic heavyweight Jim Johnson stepped down as chief of Barack Obama's vice-presidential search committee after revelations he'd gotten Countrywide loans at very favorable rates because of Mozilo.
Citing company documents and e-mails, the report says the FOAs paid lower fees, and if rates fell while a loan was pending, the VIPs would get a free "float-down" while regular customers had to pay a surcharge.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Dodd spokesman Bryan DeAngelis said: "The Dodds received a competitive rate on their loans. ... They did not seek or anticipate any special treatment, and they were not aware of any."