Meanwhile, McCain is running television ads tying Sen. Barack Obama to Franklin Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae who was forced out for misstating the company’s earnings. Obama vigorously protests that Raines isn’t really one of his advisers, though Raines had previously said that he advised the campaign.
But McCain doesn’t need to focus on Raines. Obama selected another Fannie Mae CEO, James A. Johnson, to head his vice presidential search. Johnson had been executive assistant to Vice President Walter Mondale and a lobbyist before his nine years at Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae’s regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, found that Fannie Mae had misrepresented its expenses during his tenure, allowing him and other officers to receive larger bonuses than warranted. After revelations that Johnson had received loans directly from Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide Financial, he resigned his position with the Obama campaign. (Given his experience, Johnson could probably have helped Obama choose a better vice president than the gaffe‐prone fabulist Joe Biden.)
Obama is also the second‐biggest recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, behind only Senate Banking Committee chairman Christopher Dodd. What’s remarkable is that the calculation by the Center for Responsive Politics covers 20 years, from 1989 to 2008, and yet Obama is at the top of the list after only one Senate campaign and four years in office.
What all this really indicates is how deeply Fannie and Freddie have been enmeshed in Washington politics. They hire top lobbyists from both parties, give lavishly to members of Congress from both parties, and generously subsidize lots of influential think tanks and charities in the Washington area.
Robert Zoellick, who was a top aide to James A. Baker III in the Reagan and Bush I administrations, handled Fannie Mae’s lobbying before joining the second Bush administration as U.S. Trade Representative and president of the World Bank. Jamie Gorelick was deputy to Attorney General Janet Reno in the Clinton administration, then joined Fannie Mae as vice chair during Clinton’s second term. John Buckley, nephew of conservative icons William F. Buckley Jr. and James L. Buckley and press secretary for the Bob Dole and Jack Kemp campaigns, spent 10 years as head of communications for Fannie Mae.
Just a few months ago Fannie hired Lorraine Voles, former communications director for Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, to work in its communications shop alongside Charles Greener, former spokesman for the Republican National Committee.