In Broad Daylight: On Your Side

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Countrywide is on your side; OMG!, Congress is still earmarking; and the Waxman committee officially approves of the White House-Abramoff report. The power’s out in D.C., but we still have news:

Sen. Barack Obama’s VP vetter Jim Johnson resigned his post after it was revealed that he received favorable loans from Countrywide while he served as the head of home loan giant Fannie Mae. The Countrywide scandal spread to the United States Senate today as it was revealed that Sens. Chris Dodd, chairman of the Banking Committee, and Kent Conrad, chairman of the Budget Committee, received the same favorable loans from Countrywide. Dodd and Conrad were listed as “Friends of Angelo,” after Countrywide’s CEO Angelo Mozilo, and “received better deals than those available to ordinary borrowers.” It is unclear whether Dodd and Conrad were aware of the special treatment as “Friends of Angelo,” “weren’t told exactly how many points were waived on their loans,” unless they asked. Both Senators deny knowledge of their special treatment. Also receiving favorable loans were former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and former HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson.

One year after seriously cutting back on earmarking, Congress is indulging in an election year pork roast. My personal favorite earmark listed in the article: an indoor small-arms range in Connecticut. (When will they subsidize arms ranges like this one.) The biggest increase in earmarks appears to be in the Defense Appropriations. The House authorization bill alone increased earmarks by 29% from last year’s bill.

By a voice vote, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform approved their report on the ties between the White House and Jack Abramoff. Chairman Henry Waxman said, “We haven’t always agreed on the significance of the facts we have learned, but we have agreed that we should report the facts fairly and accurately to Congress and the public.”

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