Over the last couple of weeks I've covered the Countrywide mortgage scandal involving Senators Dodd and Conrad, where the pair received preferential treatment from the mortgage lending company.
Well, this week, Judicial Watch filed separate complaints with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee, against Barack Obama for allegedly accepting a below market rate mortgage loan in 2005 not available to the general consumer.
According to the Judicial Watch complaints, Obama reportedly received a home loan of $1.32 million at a rate of 5.625 percent, although the average going rate on that day according to two different surveys was between 5.93 and 6 percent. The special below-market "super super jumbo" loan, as described by The Washington Post, was secured without an origination fee or discount points – terms not available to the general public.
Here's an excerpt from our U.S. Senate complaint:
"It appears that due to his position as a United States Senator, Barack Obama received improper special treatment from Northern Trust resulting in an illicit 'gift' which has a value of almost $125,000 in interest savings. Judicial Watch therefore respectfully requests a full investigation into whether the special Northern Trust mortgage received by Senator Barack Obama constitutes a gift that is prohibited by Senate ethics rules."
(In our FEC complaint, Judicial Watch also calls for a full FEC investigation into whether the special mortgage is a disguised and illegal corporate campaign contribution to Senator Obama. That certainly appears to be the case.)
As Judicial Watch notes in both complaints, the relationship between Northern Trust and Senator Obama goes far beyond this single mortgage loan. Northern Trust has supported Barack Obama's political campaigns since 1990. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, cited by The Washington Post, Northern Trust employees have donated $71,000. The Northern Trust political action committee gave $1,250 to Senator Obama's 2004 campaign for the United States Senate.
Northern Trust Vice President John O'Connell essentially admitted the company provided Obama preferential loan terms because of his position in the U.S. Senate. "A person's occupation and salary are two factors; I would expect those are two things we would take into consideration," O'Connell told The Washington Post [emphasis added]. "This was a business proposition for us."
Look, anytime a member of Congress gets a sweetheart deal from a mortgage company, we ought to be suspicious. Let's hope the U.S. Senate the FEC do their jobs and investigate the matter. I'll keep you posted.
Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation's public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.