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Friends of Angelo

Posted by Larry Doyle on June 25, 2009 6:33 PM |

Angelo MoziloThis editorial, The Secret ‘Friends of Angelo’, in today’s Wall Street Journal speaks for itself. Talking about regulatory reform is one thing, promoting real transparency and integrity is where the rubber meets the road.

Angelo Mozilo, the former Countrywide Financial CEO charged with fraud and insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission, had a lot of “friends.” The Democratic leadership in Congress just doesn’t want you to know their names — or the details of their loans from Countrywide.

What we know is that Senators Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad were among the VIPs who received sweetheart mortgages under the “Friends of Angelo” program. What we don’t know is how many other government officials also received such favors, or what exactly Countrywide expected in return. A March report by Congressman Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) highlighted internal Countrywide emails in which executives debated whether the mayor of Billings, Montana, was influential enough to warrant a waiving of his mortgage insurance premium. The company ultimately decided that he was. We can only imagine what Countrywide’s internal emails might say about the benefits of “friendship” with Mr. Dodd, who chairs the Banking Committee of the U.S. Senate, or about others who benefited from the program.

Mr. Issa doesn’t want to imagine; he wants to discover the facts. He’s asked Rep. Edolphus Towns (D., N.Y.), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to subpoena records of the “Friends of Angelo” loan program from Bank of America, which bought the failed subprime lender last year. So far, Mr. Towns is noncommittal, and perhaps he is hoping that the issue will fade into the background during the long August recess.

In the world of Beltway politics, it’s almost impossible to believe that a committee chairman would make such a decision without consulting the Democratic leadership. In 2006, while campaigning for a House majority, Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised she would run the most ethical Congress in history. We have here a documented effort by a company at the center of the mortgage meltdown to influence Members of Congress with favorable loan terms. Is there an argument against pursuing the facts and then sharing them with the voters who took Ms. Pelosi at her word?

Barack, Joe, Harry, Nancy, and everybody on the other side of the aisle as well: don’t tell us you will be totally transparent, SHOW US!!!

LD

  • silver

    LD,

    I have forwarded some of your columns to my congressman, my senators and Speaker Pelosi. I have never received any type of acknowledgement.

    I will try again with this column!

    • Don’t stop sending them. At least in that manner you will be ‘on the record,” if and when your paths cross.

  • lizzy

    LD,
    I was just reading in realclearpolitics; they have an article by Roubini from Forbes. It is about regulatory reform in the US,and the EU. I thought you might be interested in it. Will we ever learn about the friends of Mazillo?

    • Lizzy,

      Thanks for thinking of me and SoC about the Roubini article. Great minds think alike!! I listed that article as our lead Newsworthy piece yesterday.

      On one hand, the SEC needs a “win” but how big a win will they get …or be allowed to get.

  • TD

    LD…One thing that I find dismaying in our fast-twitch age of instant media is the need to demonize those in the spotlight. Was Angelo peddling favors? No doubt. But his “friends” included not just those in positions of power, but waitresses and cabbies as well. Mozillo spent 40 years building his company. Nearing retirement and at the peak of his power he decides to drive it off a cliff? What was the motivation? The New Yorker has an interesting profile in its most recent issue. While the name David Sambol (Countrywide President) doesn’t illicit the same ire, the story lays it out that it was his drive for market share and volume, exquisitely ill-timed, that doomed the firm. Here’s the abstract: Angelo’s Ashes. Registration required for the full text, which I highly recommend to your readers. I’m not an apologist, but think it is well worth asking not just what and who, but also why.






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