Dems running scared on Countrywide scandal

And when I say, "scared," I mean petrified.

Some big name Democratic lawmakers as well as contributors would be embarrassed and possibly liable for ethics violations if the truth about the list of "VIP's" who benefited from overly generous mortgage terms offered by Countrywide Financial ever came out.

So the number one job of House Oversight and Government Reform chairman Edolphus Towns is to try and bury the issue - just as it's the number one job of the ranking minority member Darrell Issa to try and bring it out into the open.

The result? When the GOP tried to force a vote on the investigation during a mark up period, the Democrats refused to show up. And now they've locked the GOP out of the Committee room entirely.

Susan Crabtree writing at The Hill:

Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) locked Republicans out of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee room to keep them from meeting when Democrats aren't present.

Towns' action came after repeated public ridicule from the leading Republican on the committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), over Towns's failure to launch an investigation into Countrywide Mortgage's reported sweetheart deals to VIPs.

or months Towns has refused Republican requests to subpoena records in the case. Last Thursday Committee Republicans, led by Issa, were poised to force an open vote on the subpoenas at a Committee mark-up meeting. The mark-up was abruptly canceled. Only Republicans showed up while Democrats chairs remained empty.

Republicans charged that Towns canceled the meeting to avoid the subpoena vote. Democrats first claimed the mark-up was canceled due to a conflict with the Financial Services Committee. Later they said it was abandoned after a disagreement among Democratic members on whether to subpoena records on the mortgage industry's political contributions to Republicans.

A GOP committee staffer captured video of Democrats leaving their separate meeting in private chambers after the mark-up was supposed to have begun. He spliced the video to other footage of the Democrats' empty chairs at the hearing room, set it to the tune of "Hit the Road, Jack" and posted it on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's minority webpage, where it remained as of press time.

Incensed that the GOP scored a PR coup, Townes retaliated by locking the room. Pretty childish. And very revealing about just how much the Democrats think this scandal could hurt them.

Press on, Rep. Issa...