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. Tom in Delaware

    Wow! Don't see this very often...

    Obama "punked" by CNN.

    The sun also rises.

    September 24, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. Sue in MI

    It would actually make sense to talk to financial people about finances, wouldn't it? These petty acquaintance things are annoying and meaningless.

    September 24, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  3. John

    Jesus, Johnson worked with Sen. Obama a short time. Isn't this the pot calling the kettle black. How many lobbists and individuals who run big companies work in your campaign, Little J. I would say talk about the issues, but then you have no earthly chance in this election. You have to talk about "lipstick on a pig" and delay debates. What a child.

    September 24, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  4. Scott L




    September 24, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  5. wiser

    Senator McCain was a fighter pilot who is willing to fight for Americans. Senator Obama was a professor who is willing to pontificate and ponder for Americans. Senator Obama should stay in his ivory tower in Chicago.

    We need someone who will do more than vote present 130 times!

    Democrats for leadership and McCain!

    September 24, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  6. Nia Hussein- Phoenix, AZ

    Liars...Liars...liars...meanwhile macain has lobbyist up the waazoo and his camapaing is headed by Rick davis...who was paid by Fannie Mea, freddie mac all the way up until a couple months ago $15,000 a month...McWar is a fraud

    September 24, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. Kate Fergus

    Fact check has already debunked this. Raines is NOT an advisor to Obama. He never has been. It is just another lie the McCain campaign promotes. They have nothing but lies. Give it up.

    September 24, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  8. no more Black eyes

    Johnson stepped down June 9Th...Davis still in McCain's ear, Pfotenhauer still in his ear, Black still in his ear, Scheunemann still in his many more lobbyist and crooked senators like Gramm are pulling McCain's strings?

    September 24, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  9. Charlotte

    Washington is nothing but Politicians or Lobbist. I bet you can not walk a half a block and not run into one or the other.

    September 24, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  10. Deb


    September 24, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  11. No to Palin

    Did Johnson get $15,000 a month to get them close to Obama? I don't think so!

    September 24, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  12. bah

    WOWWOW are you in a comma?

    September 24, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  13. Matt MC


    September 24, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  14. Ray from Gainesville VA

    Sen McCain at the debate:

    My friends, I've been lying and stretching the truth for weeks about Sen Obama. My friends, I will continue to put fear in your eyes so you'll pick me. My friends, I picked Gov Palin because that is what the right wing repugs told me to do. I really wanted to pick Joe Lieberman but they told me I couldn't. My friends, remember I was a POW. My friends, Sen Obama is still a celebrity but don't judge the celebrity that Gov Palin is getting right now. My friends, my friends, my friends...............

    September 24, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  15. SAT

    It seems as if both sides have ties to lobbyists. The main difference is probably that Senator McCain has a team of them working for him.
    Senator Obama's ad on the subject spells that out quite clearly.

    I do like how the media is fact checking both campaigns claims. That is wonderful. Some days, the tv seems to be full of these campaign ads. Now, I just wait to hear what the MSM has to say to determine what is true and what is false.

    September 24, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  16. Misty

    McCain as Philly Graham and George W Bush and Palin and HIMSELF!!!

    Obama Forever!

    September 24, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  17. gwg

    What should come first the Country or Obama's ambitions. Our country should always come before a man's hope.

    September 24, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  18. charles

    McCain's calling off the debate stunt is clearly an effort to distract from another big story today, Rick Davis, a major lobbyist-advisor on his campaign staff was being paid right up to August 2008 by Freddie Mac to ensure "access" to the candidate.

    September 24, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  19. georgia

    Rick Davis !
    Keating 5 !
    No McSame-NoShame /Pain

    September 24, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  20. aware

    Who cares?

    Obama is from a dysfunctional family and has no idea how to relate to people in any degree of intimacy or authenticity! He needs healing not not a challenging new job!

    Give Obama a break – send him back to the senate to grow up! 🙂

    McCain/palin 08! 🙂 They are authentic reformers!

    September 24, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  21. I Can See Russia

    what happened to the story about Daley and his comments that "his pal McCain" was the uber lobbyist? That you couldn't even talk with him unless you hired one of his buddies.

    Was that too real a news story for CNN now?

    The Cable News Enquirer?

    September 24, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  22. georgia

    Rick Davis !
    Keating 5 !
    No McSame-NoShame /Pain
    Tho I must admit he & his VP choice have much in common, shallow,shameless liars !

    September 24, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  23. Get Real, Obama has 300

    Obama has 300 crooks and criminals who are his economic advisers. That is obviously because none of them know horse squeeze about the economy – but they do know 300 ways to siphon money from taxpayer funds.

    September 24, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. aware


    Governor Palin has an intuitive gift of listening and relating to people. Her political sense is inherent!

    This makes her the best candidate America has had in a very, very long time! 🙂

    Straight talk from the reformer and maverick Senator John McCain! 🙂

    September 24, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  25. Peter (CA)

    Looks like the right wingers are still foaming at the mouth here.

    Unfortuantely, doesn't look like there is anything here to be excited about. More lies from the McCain camp.

    September 24, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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