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Letter - Sen. Kent Conrad is not a friend of Angelo's

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There have been news stories inaccurately portraying my mortgages with Countrywide Financial. I hope North Dakotans will hear the facts and understand I never asked for, expected or was aware of any special favors by Countrywide.

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Here are the facts: In 2002, I called a friend for advice on a new mortgage. He happened to be with the head of Countrywide, Angelo Mozilo and handed him the phone. I spoke to Mr. Mozilo for 30 seconds and he referred me to a junior loan officer.

In retrospect, I understand why people would think that was not right. Most North Dakotans don't talk to the CEO's of their mortgage companies. I should have realized that - and I should have ended the conversation right then and there.

But at the time, I didn't think I was doing anything inappropriate. In my late 20s, before having held any public office, I made an appointment to see the head of a lending institution in Grand Forks about a loan for my first house.

Just as I never sought personal favors from North Dakota bankers, I never asked for, expected or was aware of any preferential treatment in the course of my dealings with Countrywide.

Like anyone else, I worked with the junior loan officer and applied for a loan. Because I did not know if Countrywide would grant me a loan, I also consulted another mortgage broker. He offered me the identical rate as Countrywide.

In 2003, I refinanced my mortgage, again at market rates. In 2004, I refinanced again to a 15-year mortgage, again at prevailing rates. Internal Countrywide e-mails show they waived a 1-point fee worth $10,700 on this loan -- without my knowledge. Bankers tell me it was commonplace to waive points to keep and attract good loans.

In 2004, I also financed an eight-unit apartment building in Bismarck, in which I live. Countrywide didn't typically finance buildings with more than four units, but made exceptions when they could sell the loans on the secondary market, which is what they did with mine. I paid a higher-than-average rate on that loan.

More than anything else in my 25 years of public service, I value the trust I have earned from my fellow North Dakotans. I will take every measure possible to ensure them that I sought no favor, expected no favor or was aware of any favor by Countrywide Financial.

Sen. Kent Conrad

D-N.D.

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