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2009/2010: Countrywide is back…

CONNECTICUT: Ouch: A Countrywide official directly contradicts the claims by Chris Dodd

and Kent Conrad regarding their special mortgages. "The statements from Robert Feinberg, who worked as a loan officer at the mortgage lender, stand in direct contradiction to statements made by Dodd and Conrad, who maintain that they did not know they were part of the Countrywide program created by its chief executive at the time, Angelo Mozilo. 'He always made a big deal about them being in the VIP program. Does he remember the exact words he spoke with Conrad

and Dodd? No, but he always made it clear,' said Elana Goldstein, one of Feinberg's attorneys."

"Feinberg testified for several hours before the ethics committee on June 23. Questioning him were Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), ranking Republican Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho). Dodd and Conrad responded to questions from the committee last year. "

Dodd's office released this statement: "Today, the Associated Press published a story on allegations made by a former Countrywide employee -- allegations that the former employee has been making for over a year.  Senator Dodd and his wife, Jackie, have demonstrated that they received market rates and terms on their loans. As they have said all along, they did not seek or expect any special rates or terms on their loans and they never received any; they were never offered special or sweetheart deals and if anyone had made such an offer- they would have severed that relationship immediately. They acted properly in their mortgage refinancing negotiations."

More: "As the mortgage documents and materials they provided to reporters in February and an independent report showed, the rates and terms they did negotiate were widely available in the market when they refinanced. And given that the rates they received were perfectly typical at the time they negotiated for them, they had absolutely no reason to believe that any special or sweetheart deal was being offered."

KENTUCKY: It wasn't pretty, but Senate Republicans got what they want: a Bunning retirement.

Roll Call says Bunning's decision brings "closure to a months-long GOP family drama accentuated by public lashings from the irascible Senator directed at the media and his colleagues."

"Secretary of State Trey Grayson (R), long a favorite of national Republicans, will announce Monday that he will convert his exploratory committee into an official candidacy, a source told The Hill." Grayson could face a primary from former Ambassador Cathy Bailey, "a wealthy former Republican National Committee member who has expressed interest in a bid and has suggested she could help finance her own campaign." And Ron Paul's son, Rand Paul (R), who is a doctor like his dad, and is already running. "On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo (D), the once-little known state senator who nearly upset Bunning, is already engaged in a bitter battle with Attorney General Jack Conway (D)."

NEW JERSEY: Responding to Gov. Corzine's choice of state senator Loretta Weinberg as his running mate, Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie's camp released this Web video, "Corzine-Weinberg: You Can't Change Trenton from the Inside."

VIRGINIA: Since the Virginia Tech shooting of April 2007, Virginia has become "ground zero" for the gun control debate, the Washington Post reported.  Now, "advocates of both sides of the gun rights debate are closely following" the Virginia gubernatorial debate "and the candidates' stands on gun shows for signs of a shifting trend." The last time candidates Bob McDonnell (R) and Creigh Deeds (D) faced off, for the Attorney General's race in 2005, Deeds was "a more staunch advocate" of gun rights than McDonnell, earning him the NRA's endorsement.  But now, "both candidates have gravitated to positions generally embraced by their party's base." McDonnell supports a repeal of the one-gun-a-month law, and Deeds, an avid hunter, has said he "has no interest in working for broader gun controls except the gun control loophole," where unlicensed firearm dealers can sell their goods.