September 19th, 2008
10:16 AM ET
14 years ago

Fact Check: Did Obama 'profit' from Fannie and Freddie?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Did Obama profit from Fannie and Freddie?"] The Statement:

Amid "corruption at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Sen. Barack Obama "profited from this system of abuse and scandal. While Fannie and Freddie were working to keep Congress away from their house of cards, Senator Obama was taking their money. He got more, in fact, than any other member of Congress, except for the Democratic chairman of the committee that oversees them." -Sen. John McCain, at a campaign stop Friday, September 19, in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Get the facts after the jump!

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 for Responsive Politics. 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. Obama decided early in his presidential run not to accept PAC contributions, but the Center for Responsive Politics' list includes all contributions for members of Congress dating back to 1989 - including Obama and McCain's Senate campaigns.

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.

Explaining the difference, the Center for Responsive Politics said on its Web site that it does not include members of the board of directors because they could serve on boards of various companies. Their contributions are listed along with other employees of the companies they work for. And the center says lobbyists usually represent multiple clients as well, so their contributions are listed under their lobbying firms - except in-house lobbyists, who are included in the center's list.

The mortgage giants Fannie and Freddie became symbols of the nation's economic mess - and, to critics, of corporate greed - after the government recently took them over to bail them out, making donations linked to the company in any way potential political fodder.


Partially true, but misleading. Donations don't come from companies. A list of employee contributions puts Obama second, but a different list including lobbyists and directors shows McCain getting more.

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