Last week, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released its much-anticipated report, “How Countrywide Used its VIP Loan Program to Influence Washington Policymakers.” Among the policymakers mentioned was Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon.
Publicly, Congressman McKeon has denied any knowledge of involvement in this scandal. McKeon told the Los Angeles Times that he paid the “garbage fees and did not get a point off the loan.” But this time the proof is in the paperwork.
The results of the investigation show a different reality. Borrowers were clearly made aware that their loans were processed by the VIP unit and the Countrywide documents show that one point was in fact waived on McKeon’s loan, generating tens of thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the loan.
How does one get such a nice deal? Congressman McKeon was referred to the program by a high-level lobbyist of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, Mike Farrell. At the time, Farrell was “leading the industry’s successful campaign to raise the maximum loan amount for FHA single-family insured mortgages.”
The report indicates that McKeon applied for a refinance loan at the end of September 1998. On October 5, he called Countrywide anxious to close on the loan.
On October 6, Congress passed HR 4194, which increased the FHA loan maximums as an amendment to a Veteran’s Affairs authorization act with McKeon voting yes on the measure. The policy would help lead us to the housing market crash of 2008.
On October 7, McKeon’s loan was approved and he was sent the “opening package” of loan documents indicating the VIP team had processed the loan.
Buck McKeon should finally come clean and be honest about the special perks he received.
We are calling on Congressman McKeon to pay this money back, not to Countrywide, but to the US Treasury since it was the taxpayer who absorbed Countrywide’s losses in the bank bailout of 2008, which McKeon also voted for.