September 24th, 2008
06:17 PM ET
6 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. Paris

    Obama is a hypocrite.
    Lies after lies after lies after lies.

    Obama the only reason you are where you are today is because the likes of CNN have protected you for 2 years now and never asked you a tough question.

    September 24, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  2. marie

    fact, Obama took more money from Fanniie Mae than any other Senator except Chris Dodd. I guess it's ok to preach about big business, and lobbyist, but you don't actually have to practice what you preach. He is such a phony. He rants constantly about big oil, and their obscene profits, while forgetting to mention he voted for the Cheney Energy bill that gave them even more profits. Does this man ever do what he says he is going to. I guess he counts on his supporters being to lazy or ignorant to actually look at how he votes on issues.

    September 24, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  3. California Gold

    McCain tries so hard to find the boogey man instead of standing up like a man. Like a leader. Pathetic old man.

    September 24, 2008 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  4. Bill Charlotte,NC

    Fact? More McCain lies... period!

    September 24, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  5. milo

    A week a few months back means "has advisors"? That's a REEEALLL stretch.

    And nobody backs up that article from the Post, they have even posted other articles disputing it.

    September 24, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  6. keith

    Why call yourself a fact check when the best you can do is say Davis's firm "reportedly" worked for Freddie Mac when in fact it did? That's the kind of sloppy journalism that has allowed this bald face lying to take place to begin with. You're not helping things with that kind of writing.

    September 24, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  7. deepintheheart

    So basically the one guy they really had from Freddie Mac was an UNPAID vp vetter who stepped down from his position that he held for about a month. Rick Davis on the other hand....

    You Republicans who have been slinging around the Freddie Mac mud on the Obama campaign must really hate things like knowledge, truth, and decent journalism.

    September 24, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  8. Marius Krullebol

    You say: "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." That was 10 years ago on my calendar. What is the connection? What did John McCain do 10 years ago? Peddle influence!

    September 24, 2008 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  9. Obama is the REAL Change

    This is the REAL reason why McCain wants to cancel the DEBATE with Obama on FRIDAY. It has nothing to do with HIM needed inn Washington or his fake concern about the people who will suffer from the economy crisis.………….He wants Obama to DEBATE with him on the VP Debate NIGHT………HE IS TRYING TO BLOCK PALIN DEBATE WITH BIDEN…HE IS TRYING TO BLOCK PALIN DEBATE WITH BIDEN……..HE IS TRYING TO BLOCK PALIN DEBATE WITH BIDEN…..…HE IS TRYING TO BLOCK PALIN DEBATE WITH BIDEN………..HE IS TRYING TO BLOCK PALIN DEBATE WITH BIDEN….…HE IS TRYING TO BLOCK PALIN DEBATE WITH BIDEN……….HE IS TRYING TO BLOCK PALIN DEBATE WITH BIDEN…HE IS TRYING TO BLOCK PALIN DEBATE WITH BIDEN…………………..

    September 24, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  10. Watching Closely

    Ho hum.

    September 24, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  11. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    These men had limited involvement with Obama, but they had some, so it's time to build a fire.

    Now, when does McCain address his involvement with the Keating 5?!

    September 24, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  12. Independent-Latina-for-OBAMA

    THE POT CALLING THE KETTLE BLACK. GOOD GRIEF, CAN WE STICK WITH THE ISSUES?

    September 24, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  13. N.S of Huntsville, Al

    WHO CARES WHO CARESWHO CARES

    September 24, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. Barney

    Hey – McCain's advisor gets paid $15,000 per month by one of these institutions – STILL.

    September 24, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  15. Barney

    OOPS – not McCain's advisor – McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis. Sorry for the "mis-speak"

    September 24, 2008 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  16. victor,nj

    LIAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 24, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  17. Ex GOPer

    Can we get a fact check if McCain's Campaign Manager recieved $15,000 per month from Fannie Mae?

    September 24, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  18. Listen to Our Children

    Let's line up voting records of the 2 candidates...and voting present doesn't count!

    Listen to our Children please, while their voices are youthful they're hearts, dreams and aspirations are admirable.

    They don't ask for more than food, clothing, love and a good home. You 2 can help us with 2 of those 3 basic elements by ensuring we don't loose our homes, stop blaming us for wanting what you told us was the American Dream, let's all work together to ensure we can keep our homes – PLEASE SUSPEND ALL FORECLOSURES EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY...

    Please ensure we can feed, cloth and educate our children.

    As you develop whatever plan you develop over the next few days..remember one phrase:

    PLEASE LISTEN TO OUR CHILDREN...and I'll vote for whomever does vote to have their young, promising voices heard.

    From a Proud Father of a 9 yr old 2nd invitro cycle miracle baby girl...who just wants someone as the President who cares and acts on behalf of his baby girl.

    God Please Listen to our children and God Help America!

    September 24, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  19. Issues Voter

    CNN....there are also some reports of a lobbying firm owned by Rick Davis (McCain's campaign manager) which continued to receive $15,000 a month from one of the mort. companies at the center of the credit crisis, beginning in 2005 and ending only last month....effectively contradicting McCain's claim that Davis no longer has ties.

    September 24, 2008 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  20. Maritza

    It appears Obama talks and makes confirming statements before he even has a clue about who's on his payroll , the same case could be said about his record on money given by Fannie Mae to Obama he has been a large $$ recipient , but then studders away an explanation full of rhetoric, come to think of it he never gets asked tough questions by the media anyway, does he think americans are stupid? too many are not, that's why their not voting for him, he can't have it both ways. for the sake of justice and holding these crooks accountable Johnson will have to answer to the FBI at some point.

    Maritza

    September 24, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  21. sabrina01

    THIS IS A POLITICAL STUNT TO SAVE MC CAIN THIS HAS ALL READY BEEN PROVEN WRONG...............MCA CAIN NOT READY TO LEAD FACE THE TRUTH

    September 24, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  22. Kim, Dallas, TX

    McCain should be looking in his own backyard....

    It's only getting worse for John McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis. Following the news that Davis was paid $2 million over five years as president of an advocacy group set up by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the New York Times now reports that Freddie Mac paid Davis's lobbying firm $15,000 a month up until last month. The firm was kept on the payroll because of Davis's close ties to McCain.

    September 24, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  23. nelda

    Does it look as if Obama has something to hide? He's NOT the one "trying to hide" and " delay" a VERY important presidential debate.

    Obama wants to continue and speak to the American people this Friday.

    Guess what? He CAN do more than 1 thing at a time. Unlike McShame

    September 24, 2008 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  24. Noemi in Los Angeles

    Oh, really? Please.........

    September 24, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  25. ZILCHO

    AB OU T,,,,,,,,,,,H O U SI N G ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,F A C T S ::::::::::::::::

    As soon as Clinton crony Franklin Delano Raines took the helm in 1999 at Fannie Mae, for example, he used it as his personal piggy bank, looting it for a total of almost $100 million in compensation by the time he left in early 2005 under an ethical cloud.
    Other Clinton cronies, including Janet Reno aide Jamie Gorelick, padded their pockets to the tune of another $75 million.
    Raines was accused of overstating earnings and shifting losses so he and other senior executives could earn big bonuses.
    In the end, Fannie had to pay a record $400 million civil fine for SEC and other violations, while also agreeing as part of a settlement to make changes in its accounting procedures and ways of managing risk.
    But it was too little, too late. Raines had reportedly steered Fannie Mae business to subprime giant Countrywide Financial, which was saved from bankruptcy by Bank of America.
    At the same time, the Clinton administration was pushing Fannie and her brother Freddie Mac to buy more mortgages from low-income households.

    September 24, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.