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. James B.

    It was 160k from employees from Fannie not from it execs. McCain however received much more from Fannie Execs than Obama did and almost off of the contribution to McCain came from execs.

    September 24, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  2. Sean

    "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."

    Or maybe he is being calm and composed because that's WHAT A PRESIDENT SHOULD BE IN SUCH A SITUATION!

    September 24, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  3. kris in RM,CA

    It doesn't appear the Republican care about the AMerican voters. THis bail out is the final slap in the face. I do not trust what the Republicans are doing and McCain is a Republican. First and foremost.
    American voters stand up and let the politicans know how you feel about this bail out. It is not good for America. Practice your freedom of speech. Speak up now and let them know we will not be voting for the incumbents in 42 days.
    This bail out is a bad idea.

    September 24, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  4. Vic

    I don't know if it's already been mentioned but did anybody notice that the plan to juggle the debates conveniently means that the VP debate is rescheduled? I believe that the whole idea is nothing more than a ploy to give the McCain camp another week or two to put more lipstick on a bulldog.

    September 24, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  5. real dem

    Republicans....last 8 years bush in office and 6 years in congress and none of them seem to remember the situation we are in now. Those that voted Bush in office (and now are voting for mccain) think that we care about what they say now? How dare you try to sweep what the bush administration and the republican led congress (along with McCain) under the rug!! McCain was a big part of that. 9 homes, 12 cars? And who is calling who an elitist? McCain really isn't in touch with the average American.

    September 24, 2008 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  6. mj

    Here are the facts about Fannie May and Freddie. Obama received $126,349 from Fannie/Freddie employees compared to $21,550 for McCain. However, McCain received $169,000 from directors, officers and lobbyists compared to $16,000. You be the judge but please get your facts correct.

    I agree with the statement that McCain is trying to keep Palin from having to debate.

    September 24, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  7. OH MY!

    Obama signed nearly 1 billion of dollars in earmarks and he thinks he can fix the economy??? lol you guys are actually voting for him??? Wow..interesting. Maybe Obama can sell you a snowball in the anartica... I think he could. lol

    September 24, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  8. D.Kimbro OHIO

    Typical McCain telling half truths all over town.

    September 24, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  9. McWhine

    Sure hope McWhine's transimitter does not break down – he will not be able to think or talk without it. Obama is the one not afraid to debate. McWhine was the one who was "chicken" to do debates – McCain is putting his "Country Last" by wanting to stop the upcoming debate – Obama is putting American first as usual.

    Go Obama – someone has to look out for our benefit at those meetings with Congress – Republican Congressmen & Senators are not looking out for us. And McWhine does not want to attend the debate? What does that say for him, not much.

    Perhaps the good Senator from Arizona can fill the rest of us in on how he is being so sleazy about the Ketting 5 corruption- I think he is hand and hand with the crooks that got us here.

    McWhine is blaming Obama for the mess we are in and to blame him for it is just wrong. I do believe Obama is going up in the poll numbers over this rediculous accusation. McWhine never did anything to help the economy while in the senate or now for that matter. Come on people, McWhine should have to take the blunt end of all this – he does deserve it. Let's blame on the people (Repung's trickle down, de-regulation policy) that really caused us this mess and make them accountable. McCain is one the reason for the mess we are in.

    September 24, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  10. OH MY!

    I have to hand it to Obama, I think he'd make a good snowball salesman in the Anartica. Actually, he would probally do quite well.

    September 24, 2008 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  11. Maggie From Virginia

    McCain is in panic mode! It's too late johnny boy. Mr. Deregulator. He know what's in store for him if he participate in the debate Friday. His campaign will be officially over instead of temporarily suspended if he goes to the debate Friday.

    September 24, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  12. 15K is peanuts

    $15,000, hmmm, sounds small money as compared to millions Obama and Axelrod have been getting.

    How about million dollar backyard that was gifted by mafia Rezko ?
    Obama likes to get expensive gifts, not cheap $15,000 ones.

    Clinton should have been there.

    September 24, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  13. R. Richardson

    McCain: is a coward. He's running away. Can only deal with one issue at a time. Pathetic.

    September 24, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  14. Scott McNeese

    McCain is most experienced at financial failures and the effects of inadequate regulation . . . Remember the Keating 5 and S&L Disaster in the 80's, where he tried to intimidate regulators into not prosecuting $500M in illegal investments by S&L's in order to protect Cindy's precious nest egg? These are documented facts, check them out.

    If you want lot's of experience (just no ethics or judgement) then vote for McCain.

    September 24, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  15. vc, md

    Obama is worst then other politicians in the sense that he is equally corrupt and yet claims to take the high road while his campaign is dishing out all garbage about McCain and Palin. Haven't they been calling McCain 90% Bush though McCain is poles apart from Bush. Actually Obama resembles more like Bush. He has no experience, and he talks about fixing Washington and bipartisanship! I guess he is copying Bush's election speeches from 2000. But the moment he is down in polls the true mean Obama emerges. I am sure after being fooled by Obama, the people will be so sick of politicians that turnout in the next election will be historically low.

    September 24, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  16. christina

    The only reason that McCain suspended his campaign and canceled the debates is because his poll numbers are tanking.He figured if he shook it up a bit people would get distracted.Guess what it worked with Palin,It worked the first day of the debate when the storm was coming,The DRAMA he loves it..The republicans think that means he's a mavrick.Well ladys and gentlemen that drama.He needs a not four years in the white house AS OUR PRESIDENT.

    September 24, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  17. A. Han

    Hillary already convinced me not to vote for Obama! Remember what she said? ...she said that between McCain & Obama, McCain would be a better choice because of Obama's lack of experience.

    Think about it people...those of you who want the government to do more for you! You tax your bosses more and then what happens? You might end up with a small tax break but what will happen in the long run is that while you have a little extra cash available it wont be long before you waste it and then guess boss cant afford you anymore!

    September 24, 2008 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  18. christina

    McCain can't even work on one thing at a time.

    September 24, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  19. Houston

    Obama has a silver lining the same way a hurricane looks pretty as it comes ashore.

    A taxpayer voting for Obama is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.

    Can you please tell the truth, socialist?

    September 24, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  20. christina


    September 24, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  21. Archie H.

    Twisted some more facts to your and your man's view again CNN? We don't believe a thing from CNN!

    September 24, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  22. christina

    I use to like McCain in 2000 .Thank God I woke up.The republicans are taking my money but even worse my childrens money,and so on,and so on.

    September 24, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  23. jmh

    Of course the son-of-satan would take money that didn't belong to him because he came to
    1 steal from the poor
    2 kill your dreams
    3 destroy our hopes
    oh my I hope this is not racist. NO OBAMA-NO BIDEN

    September 24, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  24. banderson

    It almost seem like this entire election has come down to who has worked for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. What about all those other companies that went under? Please let's not dumb down this election.

    September 24, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  25. Never obama is nothing more than a whoxx for obama.

    They really think people are stupid with their half truths and all lies.
    They only check what they want to.
    They are nothing but a bunch of liars now.

    September 24, 2008 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
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