No ethics breaches found in Countrywide VIP loans

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 27, 2012 at 7:18 pm •  Published: December 27, 2012

"They are not the kind of 'gift' which would be, in and of itself, outside the realm of reasonable market rates for commercially available loans," said the statement issued by Ethics Committee Chairman Jo Bonner, R-Ala., and ranking Democrat Linda Sanchez of California.

Even so, the committee said, members must take steps to ensure they are being treated no differently than a member of the public who is similarly situated.

The committee statement added, "Of greatest concern...was email evidence regarding the specific conduct of some employees...who may have reached out to lobbyists or other government affairs officials at Countrywide for assistance with their personal loans."

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the Oversight Committee, which released the July report on Countrywide, said the finding of possible wrongdoing by congressional employees "clearly indicated that Countrywide's efforts were inconsistent with House rules."

"While short of formally determining a violation, this sends an unmistakable warning to any entity that might try to duplicate Countrywide's lobbying strategy," he said.

Issa added that his committee found that Countrywide employees viewed their VIP program as a tool to build relationships with those positioned to influence the company's business interests, including government officials.