Dodd, Conrad Cleared of Ethics Violations In Countrywide VIP Case

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The Senate Ethics Committee released two letters (Dodd, Conrad) today clearing Sens. Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad of ethics violations in a case where both senators were members of a Countrywide “VIP” loan program. These letters concluded a year-long investigation into the “VIP” program and the loans the senators received.

The Committee found that the two senators did not violate Senate ethics rules prohibiting members from accepting outside gifts. The rule in question does not cover “loans from banks and other financial institutions on terms generally available to the public.” The committee also ruled that while the “VIP” loans did offer “quicker, more efficient loan processing and some discounts,” the discounts provided “were not the best deals that were available at Countrywide or in the marketplace at large.”

The senators did receive a chiding for not exhibiting care in their dealings with Countrywide. The Committee told both senators that they “should have excercised more vigilance in [their] dealings with Countrywide in order to avoid the appearance that [they] were receiving preferential treatment based on [their] status as Senator[s].”

In response to the investigation that Committee declared that it should have issued guidance on the receipt of loans and the involvement of senators in special loan programs. The Committee expects to issue a guidance to members in the future.

The organization that filed the initial ethics complaint, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), stated in a blog post that this amounts to “battered wife” syndrome.

“Like a battered woman who explains she brought the beating on herself, the committee faulted itself for failing to ‘provide more guidance to the Senate community about issues surrounding mortgage negotiations.’ Over a year has passed since CREW filed its complaint and the committee became aware of this issue. Now would be a good time for the committee to start proactively providing its promised advice.”

The Ethics Committee could also review legislation that has been introduced requiring limited disclosure of home loan information on personal financial disclosure forms (S. 1632).

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  • Gary Koss

    Of course they were found not guilty! Theives and crooks have too much on one another to discipline anyone on Capitol Hill for fear that their own “back room” deals will come to light. It is time for the Silent Majority to clean house on Capitol Hill. Demand that they all become part of the Social Security Program with the same “entitlements” as working America and that they all receive the Government Universal Health Package as the rest of America! Including DOS if they are over 59 (Ted Kennedy would be dead now if applied to him)if that is in the final bill. It is time to end the “Pedestal” status our Congress Persons have bestowed upon themselves! The 111th Congress is a travesty of the separation of powers of the Constitution!

  • L. E. Tighe

    Disgraceful;we need to all get behind the ” GOOOH ” solution(get out of our house)and change this deplorable situation.

  • Bruce Bennett CRNA

    The pot saying the kettle is not black!

  • John Holmes

    Well, it’s disappointing but not surprising that, one more time, the Senate circled their wagons to protect their own.

    If I could get their attention, I’d tell them the best defense of the Senate is not to defend the indefensible.

    Although I subscribe to the concept of a single standard, I would agree that people that qualify for the Special Olympics maybe can’t be held to it. But these Senators know full well what they’re doing and it’s especially galling that they’d claim ignorance.

  • fbanta

    You simply can’t make this stuff up!

    Obviously there is a presumption that elected representatives are devoid of ethics and therefore are incapable of being cited for ethics violations.

    In a more perfect world, Senator Dodd might be dragged into the parkig lot and set aflame: Global Warming be damned. Certainly in colonial times his neighbors would have, at a minimum tarred and feathered him.

    I can only hope that his constituents vote him out of office so he can retire to Ireland in peace and quiet.

    • In a perfect world we wouldn’t talk about murdering elected officials, no matter their faults or transgressions.

  • usr102

    The term ‘ Senate Ethics Committee’ is an oxy moron.