Byron Dorgan’s Wife Lobbied Against Cramdown
One of the key votes against "cramdown" in the Senate came, surprisingly, from Byron Dorgan of North Dakota. According to an FEC lobbying report filed by the American Council of Life Insurers, Dorgan’s wife Kimberly worked for them as a lobbyist to defeat the measure during the first quarter of 2009 (PDF).
The Amercan Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) represents 373 insurance companies. Headed by former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating, they account for 93 percent of the U.S. life insurance industry’s total assets.
In testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs on March 17, 2009, Keating expressed opposition to letting bankruptcy judges write-down the principle of first mortgages to current values because it "could potentially trigger significant downgrades to life insurers’ Triple-A rated residential mortgage-backed investments." (PDF)
It is estimated that 8 million homeowners will be foreclosed upon in the next four years. According to a study by Credit Suisse, the bill would have reduced foreclosures by 20% with no cost to taxpayers. The Center for Responsible Lending (PDF) says that foreclosures on subprime loans through the end fo 2009 will result in a decline in property value for homes in the surrounding areas of $352 billion, or an average of $8,667 per home.
The American Council of Life Insurers PAC also made $119,300 in campaign donations during the first quarter of 2009, including $1000 to Max Baucus, who voted against the measure. They also contributed to Blue Dog and New Democat Coalition PACs.
The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 requires that lobbying disclose "whether they held what is referred to as an ‘official covered position’ – such as a congressional seat or staff level job or an executive level position in the executive branch – at any point in the last 20 years." The 1Q 2009 lobbying report filed by the ACLI does not disclose any of these relationships.