September 24th, 2008
06:17 PM ET
14 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. christina

    So some of you are indicating that we are the socialist,who put out the 700 billion dollar plan.then try to scare everyone on voting for it.PLEASE...

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

    How about McCain is a sheep in wolf's clothing...

    September 24, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  3. Bam!!!

    What a FREAKING JOKE McKen and Barbie are. I want to gag!!!

    September 24, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  4. AJ

    Democrats – a party divided: You must get saddistic pleasure in lying. Work for McCain.

    September 24, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  5. christina

    Just a little tid bit ,I just heard one of McCains guys who is in the campaign just a couple of weeks ago is still getting paid 15,000.00 for not doing anything from no other than who? Fannie NO, YOUR KIDDING ME.Can't wait to talk about that...

    September 24, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  6. John

    Again, giving Obama the benefit of the doubt. Cnn, you are shameless. Check the facts if you are going to do a fact check. If you don;t have any nfo on Raines, then don;t mention him. You are speculating in a fact-check article, morons.

    September 24, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  7. Tim

    I guess McCain should stop relying on the reporting of the Washington Post, which ran three separate stories about the conection of Raines to the Obama camp, none of which the Obama camp objected to, until McCain pointed out the connection.


    September 24, 2008 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  8. greg, fl

    we need obama who can multitask

    September 24, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  9. Oil Worker in Texas

    It is apparent that a lot of people don't do their own fact checking on If they did they would see that employees of Fannie Mae (that's everyone from the mailroom up to the corporate level) made donations totaling 160K Corporations in and of themselves cannot donate to a candidates campaign. Secondly, Rick Davis has received several million dollars of consulting fees from Fannie Mae and is a campaign manager for Sen. McCain which is completely different. Obama has no lobbyist on his staff compared to the 163 that work for McCain. Remember that it was former Texas Republican Senator Phil Gram (McCain's chief economic advisor) who put forth the legislature that created the degregulation of the financial sector in the first place. I challenge everyone to go out to and see every single from McCain that has been debunked over and over, from Rezko to Ayers to Daley, and the current Gov. of Illinois. McCain is no longer the maverick he once was, he has adopted the same fear mongering, and outright lying that President Bush did to him in the Republican primary of 2000. Now who's the "real change agent"

    September 24, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) is the Committee Chairman for the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

    The following was taken from his website: As Chairman, Senator Dodd sets the committee’s agenda; guiding the consideration of legislation under committee jurisdiction. A 26-year member of this Committee, Sen. Dodd has made his first year as Chairman about protecting consumers and their investments, ensuring that investment in our nation is monitored and that ultimately, Americans benefit from it, and keeping our economy on sound footing. Chairman Dodd’s second year as Chairman will continue to focus on helping working families and protecting our nation’s economic security.

    I don't think HE did his job, do you??????????? He has been on this committee for 26 years, come on, he had to of seen this coming?????

    September 24, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  11. country last

    "country first" what a joke. half of mccains supporters are people that the democratic party stands for but they are just too blind or too narrow minded to see that. Barack Obamas agenda is to focus on the issues and problems in this country, not every other country in the world. thats "country first". do you truly deep in your hearts care whether iraq has a democratic government and free society? what about our democracy and freedoms here in america? now us average hard working americans are going to be stuck paying for this economic meltdown for years to come. im sure that the republicans will just blame this disaster on the clinton administration as they have in the past..

    September 24, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  12. Barack the Vote!

    Can McCain/Palin think of something else other than trying to distract from their joke of a campaign? This crisis has been going on for over a week, to which initially McCain's response was "the economy is fundamentally sound". Now, with the debate 2 days away, he wants t postpone it and "work on the economic problem, THAT UNTIL TODAY, went virtually unnoticed by him?" What a joke and another ploy to make folks think he's SO CONCERNED ABOUT THE ECONOMIC CRISIS, THAT HE HELPED TO CAUSE!!


    September 24, 2008 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  13. Roberto

    You altruistic idiots are in for a surprise.....Obama's team will be getting indictments! And.....Obama will be found in the money trail! You'll see. He's just another corrupt politician! I switched from Hilary to McCain. No regrets!

    September 25, 2008 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  14. Army Vetran 29

    HOW come this site lies on facts? Why is the comments closed on Oboma stating the surge did not work? if you notice all the blogs that anyone could say anything bad about Obama are closed on this site. Give me a break!. Obama never said the surge would not work? on CNN own show i have the video clip of him saying that statement, CNN states "Missleading" yea that is what CNN is your own archive footage shows OBAMA saying those very words in the begining of his campaign. SHAM on CNN editor for being so Libral!

    September 28, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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