WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two prominent U.S. senators were cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee Friday after a year-long investigation into allegations they received special, unusually favorable terms on mortgages from lender Countrywide Financial.
The six-member committee, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, found "no substantial, credible evidence" that mortgages given to Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, both Democrats,
violated Senate ethics rules.
At the same time, it concluded that the senators "should have exercised more vigilance in (their) dealings with Countrywide in order to avoid the appearance that (they) were receiving preferential treatment."
In June 2008, it was revealed that Countrywide - one of the companies accused of fueling the subprime mortgage crisis - gave favorable mortgage rates to Conrad and Dodd.
The two senators were enrolled in Countrywide's "V.I.P." program, designed to process and fund home loans for certain customers and senior-level Countrywide employees. Some V.I.P. customers referred by former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo were also known as "Friends of Angelo," according to the committee report.
The committee noted, however, that all V.I.P. and "Friends of Angelo" mortgages were required to meet standards similar to the company's other loans. It also found that discounts offered by the two programs were not the best deals available at either Countrywide or in the broader mortgage marketplace.
Dodd said he sought out Countrywide in 2003 to refinance his two homes - one in his home state of Connecticut and the other in the District of Columbia. He claimed that he never met or discussed the loans with Mozilo.
Conrad used Countrywide in 2004 to obtain a loan for a beach house in Delaware and an apartment building in Bismarck, North Dakota. He told the committee he "briefly" spoke with Mozilo about obtaining a mortgage for the beach house.
The committee concluded that neither Conrad nor Dodd sought to be included in the V.I.P. program. But once they became aware that their loans were "being handled through a program with the name 'V.I.P.,' that should have raised red flags," it noted.
Conrad and Dodd, who insisted they had not acted improperly, both said they were gratified by the committee's finding.
"While I should have shown more vigilance in the appearance of these transactions, the committee has concluded I did nothing unethical, and that is the truth," Conrad said in a written statement.
Dodd, who is facing a tough re-election bid in 2010, said he hopes that the dismissal of the charges "will go a long way towards restoring the bond of trust and confidence that I've worked long and hard to build with the people of (Connecticut)."
But "now that the facts have been aired and the lessons learned, it's time to move on."
The committee's reports on Conrad (pdf) and Dodd (pdf).
Majority Rule... Escape the Noose...
Hahahaha, make me laugh! corrupt politicians dealing with Countrywide who Dodd regulated. What a sham.
How in the world did they get cleard on this. It was so obvious. I have great credit and a score just above 800, but I do not receive this kind of special loan rates. I guess only if you have power and influence to peddle then you can receive and be cleard of any wrong doing.
So, the Dems cleared their own people. Nice. I implore you to read the reports. Apparently, they didn't do anything wrong, but should have "exercised more vigilence in (their) dealings with Countrywide."
So, if i get this right, they didn't do anything wrong, but should be more careful to make it look like they didn't do anything wrong.
Seems to me like they did something wrong. More politicians protecting their own.
Limbaugh the liar will try to spin this,since he was the bigmouth that did his best to get them convicted of something.Another loss for poor elrushbo.hahaha
And what's next for Dodd? Head straight to the Urologist's table, we presume?
The damage done to these two men by the media can not be undone.
I never thought I would be agreeing with Palin "Stick to the facts and stop pushing views".
We need some honest reporting without a special agenda spin. Our freedoms should be used responsibly.
And who is in charge of the Senate ethics committee? They are crooks and got special favors.............without a doubt. There is NO justice in the political world.
Can ethics investigation be conducted by an independent third party. The results might have been different. This is self dealing. "I scratch your back and you scrtach my back". Good old boys network clearing each other. No ethics and sense of honesty here.
having the inhouse ethics committee do the investigation into the Conrad and Dodd matters is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. so much for governmental honesty.. whatever happened to ethics and inegrity. No wonder the legislators are held in such low repute.
Big surprise. The foxes investigate the henhouse and show nothing.
Next they'll tell us Dick "Shooter" Cheney was an Eagle Scout the entire 8 years he skulked around hiring secret groups to kill Iraqis.
Well...that is good news......now from the conservative pundits......they will point out a left wing conspiracy that lets Democrats off and how they demonize the GOP.
I can just see Bill O' Righty and Sean Insanity piling on the drivel preachings of the neo-con left.
Don't you rethuglicans hate that??
I don't expect Democrats in the Senate would do anything to punish fellow Democrats. They protect each other even if they knew their fellow member is corrupt.
They need to both step down and allow a younger Democrat to take their seats. The End.
With Barbara Boxer as chairman of this committee, who is surprised?
Of course most Democrats are easily cleared by ethics committees, as it is readily apparent that most Democrats have no ethics at all.
While I lean to the left, I do not trust this result. It seems that most often wrong-doing gets covered up for the rich and powerful. I think if we knew the full truth about conflicts of interest in this government, we might feel empowered enough to launch a non-violent revolution to throw them all out. What we need the most is ETHICS in government-service instead of self-service.
Yea. OK. Who was in charge of the investigation Dodd and Conrad. What a pathetic lot our Senate is.
Dodd is walking that slim ethics line.
I still want him to own up to the fact that he put in AIG's bailout that they could keep their bloated bonuses. He says he was advised but "he can't remember who it was".
And Obama's chicago home mortgage? I'm guessing also cleared. Shocking.
Why aren't we surprised?
Of course and the Black Panther that intimidated voters on election day was also cleared of any wrongdoing... This is what happens when your party is in charge.... Dems=Hypocrites