Cummings Accuses Issa Of Protecting Republicans Caught In Countrywide VIP Loan Program

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Back in early 2011, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) issued his first subpoena for information about members of Congress who received sweetheart mortgage deals under the Countrywide VIP program called “Friends of Angelo.” By doing so he abandoned the historical practice of referring matters involving members of Congress directly to the House Ethics Committee, an approach he previously criticized, and instead made it clear he wanted his committee to probe the members’ files.“The American people have a right to know the totality of who participated in the Countrywide’s VIP program and what they did in return for access to it,” Issa said. The role of the Oversight Committee, Issa said, was “to get all of the facts so that the American people can judge for themselves who should be held responsible and accountable.”

Fast forward to the 16th of last month, when Issa wrote a letter to the House Ethics Committee giving them information on “possible wrongdoing” without publicly disclosing the names of four additional members of Congress who received the preferential loans.

What changed?

Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) suggested in a letter he wrote to Issa on Tuesday that it was the political affiliation of the members.

“Although two previous Chairmen of the Oversight Committee followed the longstanding practice of referring matters involving Members of Congress directly to the Ethics Committee, you abandoned this practice last February when you issued a unilateral subpoena — your first as Chairman — demanding to see these Member files yourself,” Cummings wrote. “The documents produced in response to your subpoena reveal four previously undisclosed instances in which Members of Congress received Countrywide VIP loans. All four intances involve Republican Members, including three current Republican House Members and one former Republican House Member.”

Reps. Buck McKeon (R), Elton Gallegly (R) and Pete Sessions (R) received the previously undisclosed loans, representatives have acknowledged to various publications, while the remaining individual is unknown. The website of the National Republican Congressional Committee, headed by Sessions, seemed to have been scrubbed of previous references to Countrywide on Tuesday evening.

Issa’s office said the issues raised by Cummings would not distract the Oversight Committee from its ongoing probe.

“The Oversight Committee continues to press forward with its now more than three-year long probe of the Countrywide VIP program,” Issa spokesman Frederick R. Hill said in a statement to TPM. “Even as the investigation yields new developments, numerous questions about the VIP program remain unanswered. Critics of the investigation have not and will not deter Chairman Issa’s commitment to exposing what occurred.”