Dodd Should Know Better

This really speaks for itself:

Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut said Tuesday that he was aware that Countrywide Financial Corporation had assigned him to a V.I.P. program in 2003 when he refinanced mortgages on his homes in Connecticut and Washington but that he and his wife “assumed” that “it was more of a courtesy thing.”

Mr. Dodd insisted that they did not get favorable pricing.

As the Senate prepared to take up legislation intended to rescue homeowners at the brink of foreclosure, Mr. Dodd, a Democrat and chairman of the banking committee, defended himself against suggestions that he had received preferential treatment from Countrywide. At a tense news conference, he flatly denied seeking or receiving any discount from the lender.

Dodd goes on to say he got no special treatment, but I am not sure how he parses something being a “courtesy” but not “special treatment.” Email documents from Countrywide show he got half-point off on his loan from the prevailing rate, but I am not sure whether that is due to Dodd’s affluence or his influence. Probably a bit of both.






53 replies
  1. 1
    nightjar says:

    Dodd wasn’t the only dem to go the special treatment route with Countrywide. At least two other dem Senators Dorgan and Conrad took the low road. I think they should refinance their loans and pay for any losses it causes them,

  2. 2
    rob says:

    I just sold a small software company for several million dollars. My bank / broker and mortgage broker seem to be able to give me MUCH better deals than they used to.

    They all come to my house if they want anything, loans need almost no paperwork (at least from me), etc.

    They don’t want anything from me except my money, and I can assert no influence in their behalf.

    So I think it is his affluence that got him special treatment.

  3. 3
    Dreggas says:

    I am betting it was more due to their affluence. Lots of credit and loan companies have these “VIP” type programs especially when the person being offered the lower rate/better deal/more credit has a history of on-time payments etc. While it is Countrywide, and they are embroiled in the Subprime mess, they were also a prime lender and while appearances may look bad I don’t see this as something either out of the ordinary or wholly inappropriate. I don’t say that as a dem either, I say it as someone who worked in the industry.

  4. 4
    Halteclere says:

    Here is my comment I posted over at Salon when this topic was discussed.

    How Many People Even Realize the Perks They Receive?

    The more important you are, the more perks come your way. How many people recognize when they are receiving unfair special treatment as compared to just special treatment? Where is that line drawn?

    A previous company I had worked for installed a handful of new, top-of-the-line distributed audio systems into the personal houses of lop-level personnel of some large home building companies. They received free stuff, and my company was able to get products put on the approved “upgrade list” provided to these company’s customers. Could Joe Blow get free systems? No. But it made good business for my company (note: our competitors were doing the same thing with other builders).

    At my current company top management gets fantastic health plans. One guy’s wife recently had both knees replaced, and he didn’t pay a dime – no co-pay fee or anything. The insurance companies throw in these perks to upper management as a “thank you” for providing regular health care to the rest of us employees. Is it fair? No, but that is the way things work.

    And as for myself, when I was with my previous company I used to be treated to lunch a couple times a month by various vendors of integrated circuits and small electronics. I allowed myself to believe that this was harmless. That was until the product I was developing went to market, and two separate vendors who had pitched a chip I had used began fighting over commission rights, and I was dragged into the middle.

    So maybe Dodd and everyone else who received special treatment knew what exactly they were receiving. Or maybe they didn’t realize how great of a perk they were receiving just because of who they were, and didn’t think of what exactly Countrywide hoped to obtain and how such perks would lead to trouble.

  5. 5
    Fwiffo says:

    It’s sad, but most members of congress are getting sweetheart VIP deals from creditors and a lot of them probably don’t even realize it. That’s how shit like the Bankruptcy bill gets passed – noone in congress feels the pinch from creditors that many Americans feel. How about McCain’s 0% interest Amex card?

  6. 6
    jenniebee says:

    If it were a Republican Senator getting a mortgage for half-a-point below prime and a blog attacked him for it, I have to admit, my reaction would be “guys, with all the low-hanging fruit out there, why are you going after somebody for something that’s offered to just about every affluent person with good credit?”

    However, since the person in question is a Democrat, and not only a Dem but Chris “Squeaky Clean” Dodd, there isn’t exactly an abundance of low-hanging scandal fruit to be had. So… carry on.

  7. 7
    nightjar says:

    they were also a prime lender and while appearances may look bad I don’t see this as something either out of the ordinary or wholly inappropriate.

    I hear what you say Dreggas and generally don’t disagree, but these guys , Conrad and Dodd, who are Finance committee guys regularly rail on about unfair or shady dealings of loan institutions. I believe Kay Bailey Hutchinson got these loans too, but she’s a republican and the hypocrite factor is lower for her.

  8. 8
    JasonF says:

    I don’t want to necessarily excuse the actions of Senators Dodd, Dorgan or Conrad (or HUD Secretary Jackson, HHS Secretary Shalala, or Ambassador Holbrooke, all of whom were also apparently part of the Countrywide VIP Program). With that caveat, though, how were these individuals supposed to know they were getting special treatment? I know what my mortgage rate is, but I don’t really have any idea what my neighbor’s is. And even if I did, I don’t know his credit history and income, so I would have no idea if I were getting a better rate than him (assuming I was) because I was a better credit risk or because the bank was trying to suck up to me. And if I were told I was part of the V.I.P. program, it would mean nothing to me — companies are always telling their customers “Hey, normally we’d charge an arm and a leg for this, but you — you’re special. You get the secret V.I.P. rate.” I’d assume any such talk was puffery.

    Now, maybe it’s different when you’re a public servant. Maybe we should be expecting our Senators and public officials to really dig deeply to make sure that what they’re getting is exactly what’s available to the public at large. That’s probably a good idea. And on that level, these officials should have said “Wait a minute — V.I.P. program? What’s that? Can anyone get into the V.I.P. program? How do you qualify for it?” At the same time, though, I don’t know that I’m too incensed about the fact that, unbeknownst to them — assuming that it was unbeknownst — these people got better than typical deals on their mortgages.

  9. 9
    The Other Steve says:

    Getting a half point off prevailing rates is pretty common. Yeah normally you’d have to pay two points to get that, but if you are refinancing and they want your business bad they’ll do it. Especially if these loans were gotten between 2003-2006 during the heyday of mortgage grifting.

    Seems not so long ago we were all complaining about how poor people were paying brokers two points and getting no deduction on their rates and how utterly unfair this was.

    stike that, when they talked about investigating brokers over that they all said it was perfectly legitimate and the buyer should have known better and shopped around.

    Strange how that works.

  10. 10
    joe says:

    I don’t think Dodd did anything wrong, and he doesn’t seem to have done anything inappropriate on behalf of countrywide, but public officials have an affirmative duty to avoid not just impropriety, but the appearance of a conflict.

    When I was a town planner, I went so far as to resign from the board of my local Habitat for Humanity affiliate, because they were going to have business before the town. An effing charity. I did it mainly to protect myself and the charity – because I didn’t want bitchy snob neighbors to be able to point to me as an excuse to complain that they got a sweetheart deal.

    Dumb, Senator, and I say this as someone who supported your for president.

  11. 11
    Fwiffo says:

    I’d add – a clever Democrat might introduce a bill that would make it illegal for creditors to give politicians sweetheart deals that would be unavailable to a mere mortal with similar financial standing. That hypothetical Democrat could probably get some good-government type Republicans like Tom Coburn to co-sponsor such a bill.

  12. 12
    Dreggas says:

    nightjar Says:

    they were also a prime lender and while appearances may look bad I don’t see this as something either out of the ordinary or wholly inappropriate.

    I hear what you say Dreggas and generally don’t disagree, but these guys , Conrad and Dodd, who are Finance committee guys regularly rail on about unfair or shady dealings of loan institutions. I believe Kay Bailey Hutchinson got these loans too, but she’s a republican and the hypocrite factor is lower for her.

    FWIW Countrywide got caught holding a lot of bad paper they were buying from other companies. Countrywide was servicing a lot of the loans that sub-prime shops were pushing. Countrywide bought them and serviced them for a time. Now that doesn’t mean they are not bad for their part of it but I tend not to view them as badly as the other fruit out there.

  13. 13
    MattF says:

    “If anyone is offended, I regret that”.

  14. 14
    The Other Steve says:

    I just sold a small software company for several million dollars. My bank / broker and mortgage broker seem to be able to give me MUCH better deals than they used to.

    I have a VIP checking account at Wells Fargo. Somehow I was able to get it because I had a large amount of deposits(they counted my mortgage as a deposit, odd).

    Anyway, I get free online billpay(normally $6.95/month), free money orders, free cashiers checks, and interest(a whopping .5%).

    I feel particularly privileged.

    When I worked for the mortgage company, our company discount was like .25% off your mortgage rate and most of the closing costs were waved.

  15. 15
    jake says:

    S.O. has been following the Adventures of Mozillo and mentioned this last week regarding a RePub who got preferential treatment. Our concensus: This is the least of Mozillo’s problems and good luck proving the senator knew anything.

  16. 16
    Genine says:

    I agree with Dreggas and Rob. I don’t think Dodd did anything wrong. I have some wealthy friends and they always get perks and extras like that. A close friend of mine and I bank with the same bank and he gets a much lower interest rate than I do and he gets a higher rate of returns and bonuses on his savings account because he is a V.I.P-type member and I am not.

    It sucks but that’s how it rolls. I like my bank though, so I don’t complain. They’re much better than most others out there.

  17. 17
    Rex says:

    Mr. Dodd said that he was a longtime customer of Countrywide and refinanced the mortgages on his homes in 2003 after shopping for the best deal. Ultimately, he obtained a five-year adjustable rate loan at 4.25 percent for his house in Washington and a 10-year adjustable rate loan at 4.5 percent for his house in East Haddam, Conn.

    Those rates aren’t significantly better than the market in 2003, as I recall. If these were 30 year loans at 4.5 percent then there might be a story here but I don’t see it.

  18. 18
    nightjar says:

    Now that doesn’t mean they are not bad for their part of it but I tend not to view them as badly as the other fruit out there.

    No doubt your right. My point was concerning political perceptions by two or three high profile democratic Senators, particularly concerning the current debate on regulation, or lack thereof, of the Financial industry. I don’t think they did anything illegal, or even unusual for higher income folks. Just that politically it was tone deaf behaviour, considering the positions they hold.

  19. 19
    Martin says:

    So I think it is his affluence that got him special treatment.

    I agree. I’m not wealthy and I make shit money working for the state, but I’ve been fortunate to flip some of my income into a decent little pile of savings (bought a shitload of Apple at split-adjusted $3.25, among other good luck). My mortgage has been the only debt my wife and I have ever carried and we have FICA scores out the wazoo as a result of all of this. My dad, who knows the ins and outs of the financial world pretty well (was CEO of a small credit union for a while) was stunned at the rates we were able to negotiate since he didn’t think he could match them through his institution. Our current 30 yr fixed is barely over 5% IIRC, which was a damn good rate at the time.

    That said, knowing we could get a favorable rate from dad, we never approached him for it – knowing it would be unethical for him to offer one, and knowing he’d feel bad for turning us down if we asked.

    The problem the guys on the finance committee have is there is no practical way they can pursue a loan *anywhere* without potentially running into this problem unless the put their house in a blind trust and let the trustee do the work. That’s just not an appropriate or practical thing for everyone to do.

  20. 20
    Zifnab says:

    Email documents from Countrywide show he got half-point off on his loan from the prevailing rate, but I am not sure whether that is due to Dodd’s affluence or his influence. Probably a bit of both.

    From what I’ve heard, there’s a certain degree of wiggle room with mortgage rates. This is hardly damning. That said, he’s a Senator and he’s paying a lower rate than average. There’s a very, very, very thin line between “here’s a good deal because we want your business” and “here’s a good deal because you’re a sitting Senator”. If he doesn’t like the position he is in, he should resign his seat. I’m sure there are plenty of people in Conneticut who would pay the average ARM rate in their areas in exchange for being a US Senator.

    All that said, Dodd’s been great in the Senate this far. If he makes a good-faith effort to fix the mess and steer clear of messes in the future, meh. If his name crops up a few more times like this, however, I’ll have an issue.

  21. 21
    BP in MN says:

    nightjar,

    It should be noted that Sen. Conrad has said he will donate the savings he received from the discount to Habitat for Humanity, and is shifting his loans to another provider. I don’t know if Dodd has said anything similar.

  22. 22
    Fledermaus says:

    Powerful and infulential people getting preferential treatment? Alert the media!

  23. 23
    nightjar says:

    t should be noted that Sen. Conrad has said he will donate the savings he received from the discount to Habitat for Humanity, and is shifting his loans to another provider. I don’t know if Dodd has said anything similar.

    Good for him!

  24. 24
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Now, now, the Supreme Court found that money is speech. Countrywide just got to talk REALLY REALLY LOUD to those fine pols.

  25. 25
    Tsulagi says:

    Not so sure it’s all that sinister or even something Dodd should be ashamed about.

    Until fairly recently, lenders were chasing business and offering great deals. And not just to people with poor credit. Not with Countrywide, and I’m certainly not a VIP, but had a situation similar to Dodd’s.

    Have my own home and two rental properties. Four years ago got a letter from a loan officer of my home lender. Said because of my good credit I qualified for a special program. Sharp loan officer already had the amounts of the ARMs through another lender used to purchase the rental properties, and had all the numbers worked out. She also made the process quick and smooth. Love competence.

    The deal offered if I refinanced all three properties to fixed with this lender was no points, no closing costs, and the usual interest premium for non-owner-occupied property waived. Excellent interest rate too. Would have been stupid to pass it up.

    The deal Dodd got doesn’t sound all that special. If it was offered to others and similar not just to politicians, kinda hard to fault him for being smart with his money.

  26. 26
    big cloud says:

    How disappointing.

    Just goes to show the rich and powerful always get better deals than bottom dwellers. I see it all the time here in my town where a rich person is always sucking up to this person or that institution (government, press), making sure that when the shit hits the fan and they are caught doing something socially, legally, or criminally wrong, that the common folk and the institutions will just look the other way and try to pretend that nothing is out of sorts. It doesn’t hurt that they also hire the best lawyers they can find, like the state Speaker of the House, in one situation I’m familiar with here in my thoroughly corrupt little state. It’s hard to believe this kind of crap goes on right in our faces.

  27. 27
    Jeff says:

    A half-point is not a big, and hardly a sweetheart, deal.

    Nonetheless, does this mean buh-bye to Vice President Dodd?

  28. 28
    Punchy says:

    I suspect the Justice Department will be opening a full-blown investigation, followed by a clear and easy conviction on tax fraud for Dodd and Conrad. All starting October 1st.

  29. 29
    Balakirev says:

    I don’t see why we can’t treat Dodd much as Rethuglicans treat their party members who have strayed. Just assert that somebody in the loyal opposition did it, instead. What we really need is a Democratic faux-news network like Fox, where they can put up stock footage of Dodd with a little (R) next to his name. Instant vindication for the party!

  30. 30
    Brachiator says:

    Halteclere Says:

    How Many People Even Realize the Perks They Receive?

    The more important you are, the more perks come your way. How many people recognize when they are receiving unfair special treatment as compared to just special treatment? Where is that line drawn?

    I’m pretty sure that many members of Congress know how to ask for perks. Putting the “special” in “special interest” is part of the job.

  31. 31
    Zifnab says:

    Nonetheless, does this mean buh-bye to Vice President Dodd?

    I’d prefer Majority Leader Dodd. Obama should be picking his successor, not his mentor.

  32. 32
    flyerhawk says:

    Much ado about nothing. Do we even know if Countrywide was aware that he was SENATOR Chris Dodd and not just Chris Dodd the dentist from Greenwich?

    If our Senators can be bought with a half point cut in their loans, we are really screwed.

  33. 33
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    I suspect the Justice Department will be opening a full-blown investigation, followed by a clear and easy conviction on tax fraud for Dodd and Conrad. All starting October 1st.

    I’m confident that Senator McCain will reveal any preferential treatment that he and Cindy received in the purchase of their multiple homes.

  34. 34
    amorphous says:

    I don’t know if this is fishy or not, but generally speaking I am not aware of all mortgage industry traditions.

  35. 35
    Cyrus says:

    If our Senators can be bought with a half point cut in their loans, we are really screwed.

    True, but I don’t think “bought” is always a binary condition. If a Countrywide representative said to Dodd, “Vote for the bankruptcy bill and we’ll take half a percent off your rate,” then they’re stupid, and if he accepted then he’s really really stupid. But then again, they probably just simplify the process. That means slightly lower rates, but it probably also means more transparency in what the card buys and stuff, and flagging Dodd’s account with a note telling a customer service rep to waive a late fee or be extra accommodating if he has some problem. Why would lenders want to let lawmakers know how much the average person gets screwed?

  36. 36
    Svensker says:

    Given the fact that our government has been (and still is) torturing people, has invaded another country illegally, and gets rid of people who want to investigate why KBR is billing a billion without any paperwork, the Abramoff scandal, the DOJ scandal, Blackwater, etc., etc., etc., I really could give a shit about whether Dodd and Co. got a few dollars off on their mortgages.

    Maybe in a perfect world, I’d give a shit.

    And my suspicious side wonders whether the timing on this is to get Dodd to back off from his FISA fight.

    (OT — Anyone who’s up for fighting against the Hoyer/Pelosi/Reid meltdown on FISA, please go visit Glenn Greenwald, send some e-mails, and donate. Thanks! /OT Hope you don’t mind, John.)

  37. 37
    Michael says:

    Like father, like son?

  38. 38
    ThymeZone says:

    This entire topic is just stupid. Anyone who has ever worked through a mortgage broker knows that the broker will shop the best possible rate and negotiate the best possible deal from lenders, that’s his job.

    The idea that someone got a half point better than the deal he had when he walked in the door in a mortgage deal, and that this is somehow “inappropriate,” is just total bullshit. The topic is bullshit, the assumptions are bullshit, and the thread is bullshit.

    Unless there is more to the story than that, then somebody has pwned the bandwidth once again with nonsense that is relevant to nothing.

    Everybody gets “special treatment” when they negotiate a loan. Some get special treatment that is favorable and some get it that is unfavorable, and some don’t get the loan at all. That’s how it works.

    If this is what the blogosphere brings to our political info stream — barking over half points on mortgages — then we might as well just turn the government over to the GOP and let them have it and find another hobby.

  39. 39
    Scott H says:

    Affluence. Well, not even affluence. Moderately well-off and banks will actually give you the time of day. But that doesn’t matter. When the economy is so bad that half a point on a loan, or whatever pillow mint it was, is looking like super preferential treatment the Congress critters need a reality check on how facts present themselves.

  40. 40
    Original Lee says:

    If this were 2 or 3 points, then I’d be upset. If your FICO score is halfway decent and you’re an existing customer, half a point is normal in Dodd’s bracket. The banking industry is just trying to make sure Dodd doesn’t mess with universal default and retroactive interest rate hikes.

  41. 41
    Zifnab says:

    The idea that someone got a half point better than the deal he had when he walked in the door in a mortgage deal, and that this is somehow “inappropriate,” is just total bullshit. The topic is bullshit, the assumptions are bullshit, and the thread is bullshit.

    In theory, I agree. In practice, it’s just too messy to leave any gray area. You end up with Jack Abramoff jet cruises to St Andrews golf course filled away under arcane legalize. It’s all or nothing.

    Do I think Chris Dodd is secretly a giant crook who’s only goal is to bilk tax payers out of billions for countrywide so he can save a few grand on his house? No. Do I think Duke Cunningham or Tom DeLay or James Inhoffe or Ted Stevens would feel the same way? Fuck no.

    I’m in favor of playing it safe by holding politicians to the most hard-line rules we can enforce. Then I can sleep better at night.

  42. 42
    Mr Furious says:

    It looks like Dodd shopped around for loans, and his longtime bank gave him a half-point break to stay put.

    Does that sound that out of the ordinary to anyone?

    Next fake scandal please.

  43. 43
    Mr Furious says:

    If Countrywide’s “VIP Program” consists of a bunch of customers way out of Dodd’s league—or if it’s Dodd and no one else—then there might be something here, but I’d say a wealthy guy like Dodd with multiple homes and loans probably qualified for the same VIP treatment that plenty of non-Senators did too…

  44. 44
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    I don’t know if this is fishy or not, but generally speaking I am not aware of all mortgage industry traditions.

    amorphous FTW !

  45. 45
    Barbara says:

    I am not sure how he is supposed to know to what degree he received favorable treatment. And it definitely is the case that affluence guarantees you a better deal in different ways. For one thing, the lender knows that you could go elsewhere and get approved by nearly any other lender. Also, giving people the “VIP” treatment is really just another way of saying that they have better credit — that is, a way of flattering them without being quite as crass. Without further facts, this doesn’t really trouble me.

  46. 46
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    From the linked article:

    Portfolio.com cited internal Countrywide e-mail messages indicating that the lender had reduced the interest rate on both of Mr. Dodd’s loans by half a percentage point, a discount that potentially could save him tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loans.

    I’m reasonably sure that Dodd is an honorable man and that there weren’t any quid pro quos. That said, tens of thousands of dollars is serious money and I’m not reasonably sure that it wouldn’t have, at least subliminally, an influence. I agree with Zifnab’s point that our politicians, particularly Democrats, should avoid even the appearance of impropriety. As it is, if Senator Dodd or his committee does anything to benefit Countrywide – even if it’s the best and most sensible thing to do – there will be an odor attached to it.

  47. 47
    tal says:

    is this really that big of a deal? who of us has not tried to negotiate better terms on our mortgage?

  48. 48
    LarryB says:

    Here’s a paranoid thought: Is it just a coincidence that these revelations come right as the telcom immunity battle, in which Dodd is a major player, is coming to a head again? If I were a Telco, I wouldn’t shed any tears if he had something else to worry about right now.

  49. 49
    ThymeZone says:

    Here’s how it works if your Fico score is ataround 670-680 and above and your profile looks decent; “Joe” is my mortgage broker, that is his real name:

    Me: Joe, what can I do to get down another half a point on this thing?

    Joe: Well, let me talk to this one lender that has a program with a good fit for you. I will get back to you in the morning.

    —// snore

    Joe: Hey, here’s what we need: Can you pay off that one card account and get me some additional docs on that other thing?

    Me: Yeah, give me a day or two.

    —-// calendar pages fly

    Me: Joe, I got that taken care of, the docs you need are on your fax machine.

    Joe: Got ’em. I am going down to ABC Mortgage this morning, I will call you.

    —-//time passes

    Joe: I can get you the rate you want, and we can docs on Friday and close Monday. Whaddya think?

    Me: Done. Thanks man.

    —-//

    Bingo, I am Chris Dodd.

  50. 50
    Spitting Image says:

    I believe Barack Obama referred to this sort of thing as “boneheaded”.

    I doubt Dodd did any favours for the deal he got. If he did, they will probably come out. The concern is optics. If you’re a politician and you seem to have gotten a nice deal for yourself, people have a right to be sure it wasn’t influence peddling.

    John McCain, to name someone at random, once had a brief fling with a lobbyist whose clients benefited from some of the things McCain did for the telecom industry. The question is not whether the lobbyist did something for McCain, but whether something McCain did was done to return the favour.

  51. 51
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Nonetheless, does this mean buh-bye to Vice President Dodd?

    I think choosing a VP automatically brings Obama down a few points because he is such a superstar and everyone else is so fucking normal. He needs to annouce he is going to be his own Vice President and run solo.

    If he has to pick someone, I think he has to go with someone with superstar cred like Mark Warner. I can’t really think of anyone else with superstar cred other than maybe HRC or Edwards (neither of whom I respect much).

  52. 52

    Erm. Well, VIP treatment is special treatment, but would anyone known to the public who makes good money get the same treatment? If a player on the Local Sports Team came in, would that person get the same VIP treatment, and the same half-point reduction?

    If yes, then nothing bad happened. It’s only if the answer is “no” that we should count it against him.

    If there are people who are complaining about this, I hope folks scrutinize their mortgages, and see if they got a half point off the prevailing rate.

  53. 53

    […] Dodd enjoyed a brief surge with the netroots during the Democratic primaries, after Edwards dropped out. Even today, bloggers like John Cole are hedging their bets when criticizing him: Dodd goes on to say he got no special treatment, but I am not sure how he parses something being a “courtesy” but not “special treatment.” Email documents from Countrywide show he got half-point off on his loan from the prevailing rate, but I am not sure whether that is due to Dodd’s affluence or his influence. Probably a bit of both. […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Dodd enjoyed a brief surge with the netroots during the Democratic primaries, after Edwards dropped out. Even today, bloggers like John Cole are hedging their bets when criticizing him: Dodd goes on to say he got no special treatment, but I am not sure how he parses something being a “courtesy” but not “special treatment.” Email documents from Countrywide show he got half-point off on his loan from the prevailing rate, but I am not sure whether that is due to Dodd’s affluence or his influence. Probably a bit of both. […]

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