Tuesday, June 17, 2008
How many degrees separate Obama and 'Friends of Angelo'?
Some of Barack Obama's big (and early) endorsers in the Senate, like Sen. Chris Dodd from Connecticut and Kent Conrad from North Dakota, are among the "Friends of Angelo." That would be Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, who arranged VIP mortgage financing for his concentric circles of friends nationwide. If you were a VIP, and even if you were worth millions -- such as friends like Jim Johnson, the former Fannie Mae CEO who had to give up leading Obama's VP search committee after his relationship was disclosed -- you became eligible for mortgage financing that might include a lower rate or forgiveness of expensive interest "points" that wouldn't be available to Countrywide's other customers. Some of those other customers, you might recall, had bad credit ratings and didn't make enough money to afford the loans that Countrywide gave them (and then sold in the secondary market, including Fannie Mae, so it wouldn't itself get stiffed).
Chris Dodd tells the Washington Post that he didn't know the VIP status Countrywide conferred on him gave him any special deal. Dodd, of course, is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over mortgage-industry-related legislation.
Did I read somewhere that Obama wants to end the back-door dealings between lobbyists and the federal government? I guess maybe "Friends of Angelo" wouldn't be included among Obama's targets because Angelo Mozilo is no lobbyist -- he is the big corporate enchilada himself