Two Dems Back Republican Push for Countrywide VIP Subpoena

ABCNews' Matthew Jaffe reports:

A House panel's contentious battle over issuing a subpoena to obtain documents about a controversial Countrywide program took a turn Thursday night when two Democratic members on the committee supported the ranking Republican's request to proceed with the investigation.

Rep. Paul Hodes, D-NH, and Rep. Mike Quigley, D-IL, wrote to House Oversight & Government Reform committee chairman Ed Towns, D-NY, and Darrell Issa, R-NY, informing the panel chiefs of their desire to issue a subpoena.

"We write to you today to request that the committee initiate an investigation into Countrywide Financial's "Friends of Angelo" program, and if it was used to gain influence over federal officials," Hodes and Quigley wrote. "We believe that to properly conduct this investigation, the committee needs to gain access to all documents related to the program that Countrywide used to provide preferred status to certain customers."

In recent weeks, Issa has vehemently argued for Towns to issue a subpoena, but Towns has refused to do so. Issa then attempted to call a committee vote on the subpoena, but a bizarre sequence of cancellations and lock-outs has prevented the California lawmaker from bringing the panel to a vote.


The new support of Hodes and Quigley, a Republican committee aide told ABC News, now gives the GOP the necessary votes to pass the subpoena measure, assuming they can manage to bring it to a vote.

"Ranking member Issa fully supports the outline that Reps. Hodes and Quigley have outlined," said Kurt Bardella, the spokesman for Issa. "He believes it is a blueprint for a fair and comprehensive investigation that will uncover the full scope of Countrywide's efforts to buy influence."

Issa has fought to gain documents on the murky Countrywide program, which he has said was used to give sweetheart deals to federal government officials and members of Congress who worked on housing policy in an effort to gain their support.


Democrats have called the GOP's push for a vote a political stunt to embarrass two prominent Senate Democrats, Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad, who received special VIP loans from the lender. Dodd chairs the Senate Banking committee and Conrad the Senate Budget committee.

Countrywide, once the nation's largest home mortgage lender, collapsed in 2008 in the midst of the subprime mortgage meltdown. In June, the company's former CEO was charged by the Securities & Exchange Commission with civil fraud and insider trading, making him the highest-profile official to date faced with federal charges stemming from the financial crisis. More HERE

-Matthew Jaffe

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