Lawmaker got choice Countrywide loans

Rep. Edolphus Towns received home loans from Countrywide through a program known as 'Friends of Angelo,' according to the Wall Street Journal.

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NEW YORK (Reuters) -- A leading Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives who has rebuffed Republican efforts to subpoena records of a mortgage program for favored borrowers at Countrywide Financial Corp. got home loans from that lender, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Representative Edolphus Towns, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, obtained two loans from Countrywide, which was bought last year by Bank of America , the newspaper said, citing information from the lawmaker's mortgage documents.

Towns has turned down calls from the committee's ranking Republican, Darrell Issa, for the panel to subpoena mortgage records showing who received loans through Countrywide's VIP program, the journal said.

The program offered loans to politically influential figures and other favored borrowers at more attractive terms than were available to the general public.

The mortgage documents on the loans to Towns contain a Countrywide address and branch number that correspond to the VIP program, the Journal reported.

Towns told the paper through a spokeswoman that his decision not to subpoena the VIP records "has nothing to do with his mortgages" and that if the mortgages came through the VIP program "it was without his knowledge."

Towns was not immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. office hours.

In June, Issa wrote to Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) asking it to disclose any special mortgage terms the bank's Countrywide unit gave to politically influential customers over an eight-year period. Bank of America bought Countrywide last year after the mortgage lender collapsed under the weight of bad mortgages and defaults.

Countrywide's VIP program of preferential mortgage rates was also known as the "Friends of Angelo" program, after Countrywide founder Angelo Mozilo.

In February, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, a Democrat, said he would refinance two mortgages that he took out in 2003 under Countrywide's VIP program. To top of page

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