On his Cincinnati-based radio program, Bill Cunningham falsely claimed that former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines is an "economic adviser" and "chief financial adviser" to Sen. Barack Obama. A McCain campaign ad claims that Raines "advises" Obama -- a claim that Raines and the Obama campaign have denied -- but even that ad did not claim that Raines is a "chief" adviser.
On the September 28 broadcast of his Cincinnati-based radio program, Bill Cunningham falsely claimed that former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines is Sen. Barack Obama's "chief financial adviser," echoing a false claim by Fox News host Sean Hannity. Subsequently, on September 30, Cunningham baselessly claimed that Raines is "currently an adviser" to Obama. As Media Matters for America has documented, the McCain campaign has released an ad citing a July 16 Washington Post article for the claim that Raines "advises" Obama, a claim that both Raines and the Obama campaign have denied. However, not even the McCain ad claimed that Raines is Obama's "chief" adviser.
Moreover, in a September 19 Fact Checker blog post, Washington Post writer Michael Dobbs reported that the McCain campaign's basis for its claim was the Post article's statement that Raines had "taken calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters." Dobbs added that he asked the Washington Post business reporter Anita Huslin -- the article's author -- "to provide the exact circumstances of the quote" cited in the McCain ad. Dobbs reported:
She explained that she was chatting with Raines during the photo shoot, and asked "if he was engaged at all with the Democrats' quest for the White House. He said that he had gotten a couple of calls from the Obama campaign. I asked him about what, and he said 'oh, general housing, economy issues.' ('Not mortgage/foreclosure meltdown or Fannie-specific,' I asked, and he said 'no.')"
Dobbs also stated, "The McCain campaign is clearly exaggerating wildly in attempting to depict Franklin Raines as a close adviser to Obama on 'housing and mortgage policy.' " Dobbs continued: "If we are to believe Raines, he did have a couple of telephone conversations with someone in the Obama campaign. But that hardly makes him an adviser to the candidate himself -- and certainly not in the way depicted in the McCain video release."
From the September 30 broadcast of Clear Channel's The Big Show with Bill Cunningham:
CALLER: But my real problem is with you, Willie, and how you always seem to throw race into -- just like that last conversation. I don't even know what that was about. OK, NAACP -- they took an invitation from one guy. I mean, I just don't understand why race has to be such a big part of your conversation.
CUNNINGHAM: Phillip, because the Democrats and American society and the NAACP make race part of everything in America. But going back to your first point, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were government sponsored enterprises, GSEs, that were run by Democrats. Until 2005, the leader of Fannie Mae was a guy named Franklin Raines, who was Clinton's OMB director and is currently an adviser to Obama. Franklin Raines ran Fannie Mae into the ground, took $93 million in salary and bonuses and sued various banks for not loaning to minorities and to other poor Americans because he believed that everyone in America should have the American dream. Why do you think, Phillip, the black community has been more devastated by subprime if the black community was not targeted by Fannie and Freddie?
CUNNINGHAM: Republican [Rep. Chris] Shays [CT] is questioning Franklin Raines, who is Obama's economic adviser today.
SHAYS [audio clip]: And you have about 3 percent of your portfolio set aside. If a bank gets below 4 percent, they are in deep trouble. So I just want you to explain to me why I shouldn't be satisfied with 3 percent --
RAINES [audio clip]: Because banks don't -- there aren't any banks who only have multi-family and single-family loans.
CUNNINGHAM: Goldman Sachs -- you know -- you don't know this, but Paulson --
CO-HOST: Who's he play for? --
CUNNINGHAM: He worked at Goldman Sachs -
CO-HOST: Who's he play for?
CUNNINGHAM: CEO of Goldman Sachs.
CO-HOST: And what's he worth? About $28 trillion?
CUNNINGHAM: No, $500 million.
CO-HOST: Is that all?
CUNNINGHAM: Now, which -- which Wall Street firm --
CO-HOST: And he's running the treasury?
CUNNINGHAM: Yeah. Who does he want to help? Goldman Sachs. Why isn't that like a scandal?
CO-HOST: Do you blame him?
CUNNINGHAM: No, I don't blame him. I don't know. And Obama's talking about the economy when his adviser is Franklin Raines.
CO-HOST: You know, that's a good point. In the next debate, if somebody says "Main Street," I'm going to go there and I'm going to knock them out.
From the September 28 broadcast of Live on Sunday Night, It's Bill Cunningham, syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks:
OBAMA [audio clip]: You know, House Democrats and Senate Democrats, and me, and the leadership are all pretty burned up about this thing. This wasn't happening on our watch.
BIDEN [audio clip]: Name me one single solitary fundamental difference that he has with President George W. Bush, and then tell me, if you're not going to change any policies, how the next four years would be any better than the last eight years.
CUNNINGHAM: Obama was so outraged, he hires the CEO of Fannie Mae to be his chief economic adviser, Franklin Raines. That's how angry Obama was.
CUNNINGHAM: So the banks were threatened with redlining lawsuits and with sex discrimination and with sexual proclivity discrimination and race discrimination if they did not loan quickly to Democratic core constituency groups. And Franklin Raines, who controlled Fannie Mae from 1999 to 2004, received about $93 million in money and was appointed by Obama as one of his chief financial advisers. And if McCain cannot point out those obvious facts, why should I waste my time doing it every Sunday night?
CUNNINGHAM: During Friday's debate, I thought, you know, if John McCain is not even willing to look at Barack Obama or point a finger at Barack Obama, nor act animated toward me as an American voter, why do I come on Sunday night, carrying his water when he won't carry it himself? That's what I saw Friday night. I think he did well on foreign policy matters -- he could name the prime minister of the Republic of Georgia and talk about Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia and Poland -- but in the beginning he had an opportunity to separate himself from the Bush administration and Nancy Pelosi and failed to do so, by acting -- shrugging his shoulders and acting as if, "Well, I'll probably vote for this thing." Espouse conservative principles about how we got into this crisis because mortgages were offered to members of the Democratic core constituency group, and also talk about how I opposed it -- how he opposed it, McCain opposed it, in' 01 and '03 and many other times in between, and how Obama's chief financial adviser was the CEO of Fannie Mae and that he received the second most money from Fannie and Freddie during his short four years in the U.S. Senate, that he's been running for the presidency almost from the day he got there. Why can't McCain say these things?