(Updated 3:45 p.m.)US Senator Chris Dodd and his wife, Jackie Clegg Dodd, said Monday they will refinance the three loans they received through a VIP Program with Countrywide Financial Corp. in 2003.
In an approximately half-hour press conference, Dodd and Mrs. Dodd defended their position regarding the loans, saying they did not receive any special treatment or rates from Countrywide because Dodd was a US senator.
But to avoid any appearance of impropriety the couple said they will be refinancing those loans.
The couple said while they were aware of the VIP program, they thought it “was nothing more than enhanced customer service.” Mrs. Dodd said “we never sought or expected any special rates and terms on our loans.”
Mrs. Dodd said she did most of the negotiations regarding the loans and when she asked about what the VIP program was she was told it meant nothing more than getting an actual person on the phone when she called. She said she never met any of the loan officers in person. She said in 2003 they decided to stay with Countrywide because “it was easier to stay with our current lender than move to a new one.”
According to documents related to the three loans, Dodd had a credit score of 768 and Mrs. Dodd had a credit score of 821 when they sought to refinance their loans with Countrywide in 2003.
Mrs. Dodd said she spoke with loan officers from First Union/Wachovia, Washington Mutual, and Lending Tree and their rates were in line with the rates and terms being offered by Countrywide—their current lender.
She said the couple had no debt aside from the two mortgages at the time that they received the favorable rates from Countrywide.
In an effort to settle the allegations that they received special treatment the Dodd’s had their attorney’s but together an independent analysis of the mortgage market. The analysis which was done by CrossCheck Compliance in July 2008 concluded “that the terms and conditions that the Borrowers received for the two loans were consistent with those that any borrower, who possessed similar credit, income, asset, and equity portions, would have received during the highly active refinance market that existed during the first half of 2003.”
Dodd’s staff allowed the media to look through hundreds of loans documents related to the Washington DC and East Haddam, CT mortgages, along with documents related to the $50,000 home equity line of credit the couple received during July 2003.
Most of the documents were typical loan closing documents, however, there were several interesting notes made on some of the documents provided.
One of the notes on the Underwriting document provided to Dodd by Countrywide for the Washington DC mortgage said, “Borrowers qualified with his income, wife also derives schedule C income and was unwilling to provide due to confidentiality concerns as him being a senator. Payment is reduced even with cash to borrowers. Ability job stability.”
Another Countrywide document generated on April 23, 2003 had the business card of Robert Feinberg, a senior account executive with Countrywide, Xeroxed to the page and another page had: *VIP FOA* written on it. FOA, may refer to “Friends of Angelo.” Angelo Mozilo was Countrywide’s former CEO.
Dodd said he never heard of Angelo Mozilo or the “Friends of Angelo” program until Portfolio magazine wrote about it this summer.
“Let me be very clear, we are not friends of Angelo Mozilo and we have never been a friend of his,” Dodd said. “We have never communicated with him or anyone else other than loan officers at Countrywide about our mortgages. The first we ever heard of the “friends of Angelo” list was through press reports last summer.”
Dodd also wanted the Connecticut media to know he had planned on making these documents available sooner, however, he didn’t want to interfere with the Ethics Committee’s investigation.
“I planned on making these documents public after the Ethics Committee completed its work, but I should have realized that with national elections and the start of a new Congress it was unrealistic to expect the Committee to finish by now,” Dodd said.
Click here to read Dodd’s entire statement from Monday’s press conference.
Photo copies of the actual mortgage documents were not allowed to leave Dodd’s office.