September 24th, 2008
06:17 PM ET
10 years ago

Fact check: Obama has advisers from Fannie Mae?

The Statement
In a September 19 speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and in campaign ads since then, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain has tied Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama to the bankrupt mortgage giant Fannie Mae, saying "somehow its former CEO had managed to gain my opponent's trust to the point that Senator Obama actually put him in charge of his vice presidential search."

He added that "[a]nother CEO for Fannie Mae, Mr. Raines, has been advising Senator Obama on housing policy even after Fannie Mae was found to have committed quote 'extensive financial fraud' under his leadership."

Learn the facts

The Facts
Former Fannie CEO Jim Johnson headed up Obama's vice-presidential search - an unpaid role he played for Democrats Walter Mondale in 1984 and John Kerry in 2004. He stepped down in June - about a week after the campaign announced his appointment - after reports that he received $7 million in mortgage loans at below-market rates from Countrywide, a company Obama criticized for its role in the financial meltdown. Johnson was at Fannie Mae from 1990 to 1998, working his way up to chairman and earning up to $21 million a year, according to reports.

On June 10, a day before Johnson stepped down, Obama said Johnson had a limited role and that "anybody who is tangentially related to our campaign" could have relationships that the campaign doesn't know about. "These aren't folks who are working for me," he said. "They are not people, you know, who I have assigned to a job in the future administration. And ultimately, my assumption is that this is a discrete task that they are going to be performing for me in the next two months."

The McCain campaign cites a July 16 Washington Post article that says another former Fannie Mae CEO, Franklin Raines, had "taken calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters." In a September 20 speech in Daytona Beach, Florida, Obama called Raines "a Fannie Mae guy I've talked to for maybe five minutes in my life" and in a statement released by the campaign, Raines says he is "not an advisor to Barack Obama, nor have I provided his campaign with advice on housing or economic matters." In a follow-up to the Post article, the reporter who wrote the piece said Raines told her he took "a couple of calls" from someone at the campaign and discussed "general housing, economy issues."

Obama's campaign also has gone after McCain over campaign manager Rick Davis, who has worked as an influential lobbyist and whose firm reportedly worked for Freddie Mac, another major mortgage firm that was taken over by the government.

The Verdicts: True, for Johnson. Misleading, for Raines. While Johnson stepped
down after a short time on the job, Obama did appoint him to head his vice
president search, as McCain says. Raines, however, appears to have had limited
contact, at most, with the campaign.

Filed under: Fact Check
soundoff (164 Responses)
  1. Chris

    So Obama has two advisors in such circumstances.

    How about McCain?


    September 24, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |

    HO W,,,,,,,A BO OU T,,,,,,,TH E,,,,,,O B A M A,,,,,,,,,F N M A ,,,,,,,,1 60 K,,,,,,

    C O N T RI B U TI ON S,,,,,,,,F RO M,,,,,,,E X E C S ???

    W HO ,,,,,,,,,A R E,,,,,,Y OU,,,,,,,,T RY IN G,,,,,,,T O ,,,,,,,,, K I D,,,,O B A M A ?

    September 24, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  3. Independent but Leaning

    The debate can be pushed back a week- the election isn’t for 40 days; the bailout is going to happen in the next few days and we have to make sure we get it as close to right as we can.

    This is rediculous. McCain is doing the right thing, and I appreciate it, even if it costs him the election.

    September 24, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  4. Democrats....a party divided....I LOVE IT!!

    Obama in the debate without a script or teleprompter.......LOL

    "ahhhhhhh "

    "ahhhhhhhh, good question….let's see"

    "ahhhhhhhh, ok if I got this right I think…….no wait a minute"

    "hmmm, interesting you asked that…"

    "hmmmm, I wish Rev Wright was here right now"

    " ahhhhhhh can you repeat the question…….I'm lost"

    Commentator: " We're sorry folks , we're out of time"


    September 24, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  5. R. Squibbs

    Rick Davis's firm was being paid $15,000 per month by FM up through August 2008. McCain's stunt today shouldn't distract media attention from that devastating little nugget.

    September 24, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  6. TKW- New Mexico

    Okay, ditto. What about the economy? What are the solutions to this problem? If you ask me 6 degrees of separation for everyone in Washington. Everybody is tied to somebody who was involved in the financial meltdown. MOVE ON!

    September 24, 2008 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  7. John

    McCain lies. Republican is simply not working. How many times do you need to get hit in the head before you realize who is swinging the club???

    September 24, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  8. help us all

    Love fact checks. 🙂

    September 24, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |

    Another ploy from Mc-Cane and Sarah Short Skirt scripted by the RNC and Oil CEO's. SLEAZE....

    September 24, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  10. Lee - TX

    You should add into this story something about Rick Davis' firm having taken $15,000 per month from Freddie Mac up until LAST MONTH!! Especially since no one is saying what that money was for...which means it's a retainer...which means that when Davis starts lobbying again, he'll have about $350,000 in advance payment from Freddie Mac...along with McCain's ear.

    September 24, 2008 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  11. Barack the Debates

    Can someone do a fact check on whether or not a presidential campaign has ever been postponed in the past. It would be good to know if this is a first.

    September 24, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  12. norcal

    Your fact checking is garbage. Why on earth do you take on the title "fact check" then miggle all around issues. In some instances basing your decision on statements of those involved. Get real.

    September 24, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  13. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.

    McCains campaign manager, Mr. Black, was a lobbyist for Fannie/Freddie for the purpose of stopping any regulation of them. His law firm was paid $30,000 a month over many years!

    Now, who has ties to Fannie/Freddie?

    McBush is a faux reformer who hangs out with lobbists, and has them run his campaign. McSingle-task is a Washington insider masqarading as a reformer.

    We've already been fooled twice........not again!

    It's time to take our country back!

    Obama/Biden in 2008 and beyond.

    September 24, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  14. Obama is the REAL Change

    Was this before the Economy crisis CAUSED for him to suspend his campaign and the DEBATE with Obama, or was this one of the announcement he had decided to share with a report that was waiting outside of his door.

    One thing is RIGHT, McCain is VERY concern about the Wall Street...ops...I mean Main street (another one of Obama's sayings McCain has begin to USE).

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 24, 2008 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  15. St Louis for Obama

    The SNL bit about McCain's negative ads and the fact that they are at the most half-truths were right on the money. Everytime I see one of those ridiculous ads where the rep campaign is stretching the truth or out and out lying, I think of that bit. How funny! The lying just goes on and on and on .........

    September 24, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  16. morgan

    obama means corruption.

    September 24, 2008 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  17. Melody

    McCain is just trying to draw the fire away from himself. While whining that the NYT is an Obama mouthpiece, McCain sets himself up to look like a fool.

    No way, no how, No McCain!

    September 24, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |

    I, my friends, am voting for Barrack Obama. Skip most of this article.
    THE VERDICTS. Rains, however, appears to have had "limited contact with Obama's campaign. Misleading FACT.

    Rick Davis, is in CHARGE of McCain's campaign.

    At least, Obama has not lied his face off to the people of America.

    September 24, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  19. KEFA

    mc liar

    September 24, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  20. About suspending the debates

    Sure hope Obama's teleprompter does not break down – he will not be able to think or talk without it. To even suggest McCain is afraid to debate is just too much. Obama was the one who was "chicken" to do Townhall debates – McCain is putting his "Country First" by wanting to stop the upcoming debate – Obama is putting himself "first" as usual. He also put a stop to debates with Hillary because he felt there had been enough debates!

    Go McCain – someone has to look out for our benefit at those meetings with Congress – Congress is not looking out for us. And Obama does not want to attend? What does that say for him, not much.

    Perhaps the good Senator from Illinois can fill the rest of us in on how he is being so calm about the Country's welfare – I think he is hand and hand with the crooks that got us here.

    McCain is not persoally to blame for the mess we are in and to blame him for it is just wrong. I cannot believe Obama is going up in the poll numbers over this. Obama never did anything to help the economy while in the senate or now for that matter. Come on people, McCain should not have to take the blunt end of all this – he does not deserve it. But the blame on the people that really caused us this mess and make them accountable. McCain should not be made a scapegoat in this campaign for the mess we are in.

    September 24, 2008 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  21. WOWWOW


    Three months ago, Falcon and his agency dropped a bombshell: a report that concluded Fannie Mae committed numerous accounting and earnings mistakes. The investigation began after members of Congress blamed OFHEO for missing similar problems at Freddie Mac.

    Then the Securities and Exchange Commission’s chief accountant agreed with OFHEO, directing Fannie Mae to correct its financial statements, a move that could erase $9 billion in reported profit. The SEC and the Justice Department are investigating further, the company’s board has ordered an independent outside review, and shareholders have filed numerous lawsuits. Last week Raines and Fannie Mae’s chief financial officer were forced out by the company’s board, under pressure from OFHEO…

    September 24, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  22. rick

    Whos the true leader, its not Obama, he's like a Clinton, ME ME ME. The true leader is McCain who is willing to set aside his campaign to make sure the country is taken care of............I'm voting McCain...

    September 24, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  23. Annette

    I think this should be partly true maybe....Johnson no longer works for the campaign...he hasn't since July I believe it was. A very short time.

    September 24, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  24. Vote08

    Obama is as corrupt as all of the Washington boys...only problem is that he's hardly ever there and chooses to vote PRESENT instead.

    Sorry Obama, you may be a great story teller but you aren't fooling anyone. I'd like you a whole lot more if you had a record to prove what your saying but for now it's just that...all talk.

    September 24, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  25. Dan J

    So it's true that Obama definitely has a member of Fannie May as an adviser.
    May explain his position on things...

    Don't understand why this man still wants to debate. He says "this is just what the nation needs." What our nation needs is a temporary refrain from partisanship. Obama is again putting his own needs over Americans'.

    Shame on you, Barack Obama

    September 24, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
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