Monday, September 22, 2008

Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac and the presidential candidates

McCain's campaign operations manager, Steve Schmidt, is huffing and puffing about the New York Times piece detailing campaign top guy Rick Davis's $30,000-a-month gig for five years with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. "This [the Times] is an organization that is completely, totally 150 percent in the tank for the Democratic candidate," Schmidt said in a conference call to campaign reporters. Davis himself offered this explanation of his role: "I was the public face of an organization that promoted homeownership for a number of years." Sure.

The Times should have included more detail in the story, but it's been pretty well documented in the media that the Fannie Mae-Freddie Mac group that Davis headed up -- Homeownership Alliance -- was basically a front to help the mortgage giants fight off more regulation.

But how about Obama and the two F's? The McCain campaign has tried to draw a solid line between the Democratic presidential candidate and former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson, who headed Obama's VP search team before abruptly resigning after the Wall Street Journal reported he personally received favorable mortgage loan rates while CEO from one of Fannie Mae's biggest customers, Countrywide Financial. Obama has been responding to the McCain attacks by saying he spent no more than "five minutes" meeting with Johnson. But so what? Obama chose Johnson for an important role -- when he should have known, or cared, that this Washington insider helped to set up the Fannie Mae "their way" culture -- detailed in a devastating report by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight in 2004 -- that lead to Fannie's undoing.

No comments: