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House members’ VIP loans excluded from subpoena
Oversight panel » GOP chairman overrode Dem predecessor’s decision, identified four current House members.

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• Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif. His spokesman said his Countrywide loan carried an interest rate of 5.75 percent, which was comparable to rates at that time. Gallegly never asked for preferential treatment, the spokesman said.

• Former Rep. Tom Campbell, a California Republican. He said he never received any preference from Countrywide and did not even recall getting a Countrywide loan.

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The report also said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, the current House GOP campaign chairman, had a loan processed by the VIP section. Sessions’ spokeswoman said he requested that he not be extended any special benefits or treatment from Countrywide, and Issa’s report confirmed the request was granted.

Towns’ spokesman said the report does not alter the congressman’s assertion that he did not receive any preferential treatment.

As for Towns’ actions in 2009, spokesman Charles Lewis said: "He’s done talking about it. He said everything he’s going to say about it."

Back in October 2009 the Democratic-controlled Oversight Committee’s spokeswoman at the time, Jenny Rosenberg, said Towns was the victim of a smear campaign.

She said Towns resisted the subpoena initially because there were other government investigations of Countrywide already under way, and he wanted to focus on investigating companies that received federal bailout money.

Issa on Wednesday rejected any assertion of a smear campaign against Towns.

"This a cautionary tale about how opponents of government accountability use terms like smear, partisan, and unnecessary to attack an investigation when what they really want is to continue a cover up," he said.

Two Democrats publicly broke with Towns on the issue in 2009. One of them, Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, said in a recent interview: "A majority of members of the committee wanted disclosure. The committee chairman needed our encouragement to send a subpoena. It looks bad if we redact names."

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The second lawmaker, former Rep. Paul Hodes of New Hampshire, said in a recent interview, "I thought we had a mandate to drain the swamp, and I took it seriously."

Two House members said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who is close to Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, privately conveyed to Towns that it was a bad idea to resist an investigation of member and staff discount loans. The members would not be quoted by name because they said the matter was too politically sensitive.

Only one House member file — that of McKeon — was produced under the Towns subpoena and it was by accident. Instead of listing House of Representatives as his employer on his loan documents, McKeon listed "U.S. government" — which was among the employer categories sought in the Towns request for loan files. That file, however, was sent under the subpoena’s instructions to the secretive House Ethics Committee.

Towns’ own loan files were not provided under his own subpoena because he listed U.S. Capital (sic) as his employer.

Towns normally would have become the committee’s top-ranking Democrat in January 2011 when control of the House switched to Republicans and Issa became the panel’s chairman. Instead, the leadership supported Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who took over the position.

Towns announced in April that he was retiring after 30 years of representing his Brooklyn district.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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