Print media reported McCain attacks on Obama for purported ties to Freddie and Fannie, but not McCain aides' lobbying on their behalf

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

In articles about the presidential candidates' responses to the economic crisis, several media outlets reported that the McCain campaign has attacked Sen. Barack Obama for what it says are his ties to lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, without noting that several senior McCain campaign aides have lobbied for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or both.

In articles about the presidential candidates' responses to the economic crisis, the Associated Press, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Washington Post reported that the McCain campaign criticized Sen. Barack Obama for, in the words of McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, "his ties to spiraling lenders like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and their jet-set CEOs." But those articles did not note that several senior McCain campaign aides have served as lobbyists for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or both. As Mother Jones reported on its MoJoBlog, the following McCain campaign officials have lobbied for one or both entities: chief political adviser Charlie Black, national finance co-chairman Wayne Berman, congressional liaison John Green, Arthur Culvahouse, who reportedly headed McCain's vice-presidential search team, and William E. Timmons Sr., who reportedly "has been tapped by the McCain campaign to conduct a study in preparation for the presidential transition."

According to a Media Matters for America search of the Senate Office of Public Records' Lobbying Disclosure Act Database, Black lobbied for Freddie Mac from 1999 to 2004; Berman for Fannie Mae from 2004 to 2008 and for Freddie Mac in 2004; Green for Fannie Mae from 2004 to 2007 and for Freddie Mac in 2003; Culvahouse for Fannie Mae in 1999, 2003, and 2004; and Timmons for Freddie Mac from 2000 to 2008.

None of the four articles noted McCain aides' ties to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, despite quoting McCain's criticism of Obama. The AP reported Bounds' claim that "[w]hen Barack Obama came to Washington, he chose to strengthen his ties to spiraling lenders like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and their jet-set CEOs, not make change." The Chronicle and the Post each reported all or part of McCain's statement that Obama "didn't lift a finger to avert this crisis. While the leaders of Fannie and Freddie were lining the pockets of his campaign, they were sowing the seeds of a financial crisis we see today, and they also enriched themselves with millions of dollars in payments. That's not change, that's what's broken in Washington, my friends." Additionally, both the Chronicle and the Post reported McCain's accusation that former Fannie Mae executive Franklin D. Raines served as an adviser to the Obama campaign, although the Post reported that the Obama campaign issued a statement from Raines that "strongly denied having provided counsel to Obama." The Journal Sentinel reported that McCain "said Obama was a major recipient of campaign contributions from officials with the two entities."

From the September 19 AP article:

Saying that McCain strongly advocated deregulation and then changed his mind, Obama said: "We can't afford to lurch back and forth between positions depending on the latest news of the day when dealing with an economic crisis.

"We need some clear and steady leadership and that's why I was ahead of the curve in calling for regulation," he said. "And that's why I'm calling on the Treasury and the Federal Reserve to use their emergency authorities to maintain the flow of credit, to support the availability of mortgages and to ensure that our financial system is well capitalized."

In response, McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said: "When Barack Obama came to Washington, he chose to strengthen his ties to spiraling lenders like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and their jet-set CEOs, not make change. The American people cannot afford leadership that puts a higher premium on campaign contributions than protecting hardworking Americans."

From the September 19 Chronicle article:

McCain charged Obama with tapping two former Fannie Mae executives as advisers, James Johnson and Franklin Raines, who left under the cloud of an accounting scandal. "When I pushed legislation to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Sen. Obama was silent," McCain told a rally in Iowa Thursday. "He didn't lift a finger to avert this crisis. While the leaders of Fannie and Freddie were lining the pockets of his campaign, they were sowing the sees [sic] of a financial crisis we see today ... That's not change, that's what's broken in Washington."

From the September 19 Post article:

Late Thursday, his [McCain's] campaign launched a TV ad noting that Obama had received advice from Franklin D. Raines, the former head of failed mortgage giant Fannie Mae, calling it "shocking" and saying: "Bad advice. Bad instincts. Not ready to lead."

"While the leaders of Fannie and Freddie were lining the pockets of his campaign, they were sowing the seeds of the financial crisis we see today, and they also enriched themselves with millions of dollars in payments," McCain said of Obama while campaigning in Iowa. "That's not change. That's what's broken in Washington, my friends."

The McCain campaign cited a July Washington Post profile of Raines as the source for his connection to Obama. In that profile, it was reported that he had "taken calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters." In a statement issued by the Obama campaign late Thursday, Raines strongly denied having provided counsel to Obama, saying: "I am not an advisor to Barack Obama, nor have I provided his campaign with advice on housing or economic matters."

From the September 18 Journal Sentinel article:

During his speech, McCain offered a blistering criticism of Obama, particularly in relation to the nation's mortgage crisis highlighted by the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

McCain said Obama was a major recipient of campaign contributions from officials with the two entities. He also said when he called for reform two years ago, Obama "didn't lift a hand to avert the crisis."

Said McCain: "That's not change. That's what's broken in Congress, my friends."

Posted In
Economy, Elections
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post, Associated Press, San Francisco Chronicle
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
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