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July 15, 2010

Report says 12 staffers from Sen. Bennett’s office got VIP loans from Countrywide

By CREW Staff

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Rep. Issa claims twelve staffers working for Utah Senator Robert Bennett, who serves on the Senate Banking Committee, got VIP loans from Countrywide Financial Corp. They weren't alone among Senate staffers, but Bennett's office has the heaviest concentration of VIP loan beneficiaries:

Up to a dozen staffers for Sen. Bob Bennett got sweetheart home loans from CountryWide Financial Corp. that weren’t available to the general public, a congressional letter claims.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wrote the Senate Ethics Committee that he has documents showing up to 30 staffers in the Senate got VIP home loans through the mortgage giant. Issa singles out Bennett in the letter, saying that a dozen loan applicants listed their employer as the office of “Senator Robert Bennett.”

The July 13 letter, first reported Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal and whose contents were later confirmed by The Salt Lake Tribune, does not list names and a staffer could have received more than one loan.

Bennett’s office did not return calls or e-mails late Wednesday.

Bennett, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, does not have a loan through CountryWide for either of his homes — one in a suburb of Washington and another in Salt Lake City — his office previously said. And Issa’s letter does not implicate the senator himself.

In June of 2008, CREW asked the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate Senators Dorgan and Dodd for receiving VIP loans from Countrywide. Last August, the Senate Ethics Committee dismissed the complaints, of course.

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