October 7th, 2008
10:30 PM ET
6 years ago

Fact Check: Did Obama get second-most money from Freddie and Fannie?

The Statement: At a presidential debate Tuesday, October 7 in Nashville, Tennessee, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain said Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama and other Democrats resisted regulating mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which ultimately collapsed and had to be taken over by the government. "Meanwhile, they were getting all kinds of money in campaign contributions. Sen. Obama was the second-highest recipient of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac money in history - in history," he said.

Get the facts!

The Facts: Federal law forbids candidates from receiving money directly from companies. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics tracks donations from employees of various companies. The center's list of contributions from Fannie and Freddie employees places Obama second. Ahead of him is Sen. Chris Dodd, Democratic chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

The total listed for Obama is $126,349 - a tiny fraction of the approximately $390 million his campaign has raised, according to the center. The list shows McCain has received a total of $21,550 from Fannie and Freddie employees. The list includes donations of at least $200 from those who receive paychecks from Fannie and Freddie. It also includes donations from political action committees - pooled contributions from employees.

The report spans from 1989-2008 - just a portion of the time since Fannie Mae went private in 1968 and Freddie Mac was created in 1970.

The New York Times has published a separate list looking at contributions from "directors, officers, and lobbyists for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac" for the 2008 campaign cycle. That list - using figures from the Federal Election Commission - shows McCain receiving $169,000, while Obama received only $16,000.

VERDICT: Misleading. No donations actually came from the companies. One method of measuring employee contributions does put Obama second overall, but another, for the current election cycle, shows McCain receiving significantly more.


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