A follow-up to my earlier post about unscrupulous borrower Chris Dodd’s announcement that he will be refinancing his sweetheart mortgages: It seems he compiled an “independent” report that — surprise! — absolves him of any wrongdoing. And in response to pressure that he release his financial records to the public, Sen. Dodd “released” about 100 pages of information to members of the press…who weren’t allowed to copy them and could only take notes for a short period before returning them.
Ain’t The Age of Disclosure and Transparency grand?
Via the Hartford Courant:
In response to pressure since last year that he demonstrate his full relationship with home mortgage lender Countrywide Financial, Sen. Chris Dodd release his 2003 mortgage documents today in Connecticut. “I regret I did not do this sooner and I apologize to the people of Connecticut for the delay,” he said in a statement.
After having been accused of taking part in a special VIP program with the lender — now owned by Bank of America — he has steadily insisted that he received no special treatement because of his Senate status. But though he had promised to release documentation last year, he had then said he would postpone doing so until the Senate ethics panel had a chance to review the accusations against him. Then, he apparently changed his mind again.
Dodd said again today, “There was nothing special about the rates, fees, or points. We were never offered special or sweetheart deals and if anyone had made such an offer, we would have severed that relationship immediately.”
Dodd released more than 100 pages of documents, which he said were also provided to the ethics committee…
….these documents were only made available to members of the media at today’s session. They were allowed to review the documents and take notes but not to take copies with them.
He did, however, make his little absolution report available and this full statement:
HARTFORD, CT – Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and his wife Jackie met with members of the media today to make public all of the documents that they possess related to their 2003 mortgage loans.
The Dodds also released a report from Cross Check Compliance, an independent, Chicago-based professional services firm with over 75 years of combined financial services and mortgage lending experience. The firm compiled and analyzed market data on mortgage rates and fees from 2003 and determined that the rates and terms on the Dodd’s loans were well within the market at that time.
The report and additional information about the 2003 mortgage market are attached. The full text of Senator Dodd’s statement to the media is below:
Statement of Senator Chris Dodd
Good morning. Today, we’ll be making public all of the documents that we possess related to the refinancings of our 2003 mortgage loans. I regret I did not do this sooner and I apologize to the people of Connecticut for the delay.
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.
Let me start by making two important points.
First, Jackie and I acted properly in our mortgage refinancing negotiations. We did not seek or expect any special rates or terms on our loans and we never received any.
Second, the rates and terms we did negotiate were widely available in the market when we refinanced.
In the spring of 2003, when mortgage rates were dropping to a near 50 year low, and we did what millions of other Americans did – we refinanced the mortgages on our home in Connecticut, which I’ve owned for 27 years, and our home in Washington, which we bought together in 1999. There was an almost unprecedented level of mortgage refinancing in the spring of 2003 and lenders were aggressively competing to attract new customers or retain current borrowers.
We shopped around with several different lenders during that time, but decided to stay with Countrywide because they met the lower rates and terms that were readily available from other lenders. We had been a good customer, and it was easier to refinance with them than to originate new mortgages with a new lender.
We negotiated only with loan officers. There was nothing special about the rates, fees, or points. We were never offered special or sweetheart deals and if anyone had made such an offer- we would have severed that relationship immediately.
Today, we are making public over 100 pages of documents that include the details on our 2003 loans: the Connecticut refinance, the Washington, DC refinance and the home equity loan. These documents contain all the information about the rates, fees, points and terms of our loans. The documents also include the information about the float down of the rates that we negotiated for both the CT and Washington homes. These are all the documents that Jackie and I used and relied upon when we negotiated the refinancings of our mortgage loans including the home equity loan.
We are also releasing a number of documents that our lawyers received from Countrywide last summer. We had never seen these documents before.
These two sets of documents are all of the documents concerning these loans that we have in our possession. They have all been provided to the Ethics Committee.
Lastly, I’m providing an independent report from a firm that reviewed our loan documents, examined and analyzed loan rates across the mortgage industry and the real estate market at that time. The report clearly concludes that the rates and terms of our loans were available to similarly qualified borrowers at the time.
These documents put to rest any notion that Jackie and I received a special deal or sweetheart deal on our loans.
Allow me to address two other issues: the so called “friends of Angelo” list and the VIP program at Countrywide.
Let me be very clear, we are not friends of Angelo Mozilo and we have never been a friend of his. 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. Apparently, Countrywide put us on this list, but it was without our knowledge or consent and as you’ll see we negotiated market rates and terms.
We were aware of the VIP program. We asked what it entailed and we were told that it was nothing more than enhanced customer service. For instance, being able to get a person on the phone instead of an automated operator.
We believed this was nothing more than a courtesy for highly qualified borrowers. We have since been told the VIP program includes thousands of customers.
Since we shopped around for competing rates at the time of our refinancing and since Countrywide was offering competitive rates and terms, we had no reason to believe that we were getting anything that wasn’t widely available to similarly qualified borrowers.
Let me conclude by saying – knowing what I know now, I regret having ever done business with Countrywide. As I said earlier, I also regret not making these documents public sooner. I respect the Ethics Committee process, but I also have an obligation to the people of Connecticut, who have a right to expect the highest standards from their elected representatives. And again, I am sorry that I did not do this sooner.
Lastly, Jackie and I have also decided that we will refinance our homes and, in an abundance of caution, we will be seeking a third party to negotiate the new loan terms on our behalf.
I am proud of my service as a United States Senator for these past 28 years. I understand there will always be people who disagree with my positions on certain issues, but I do not want anyone to ever believe that I would trade my office for personal financial gain. To believe that is to misunderstand everything that is important to me and everything that has motivated my work serving the people of Connecticut.