Fact Check

Friends Of Fannie And Freddie

As McCain said, Obama is number two in overall campaign money from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Center for Responsive Politics puts Obama's receipts from Freddie and Fannie employees at $122,850. Christopher Dodd (D-CT, chair of the Senate Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee), got $133,900 from Freddie and Fannie employees and PACs, making him number one. Both totals are since 1998, although obviously Obama hasn't been in the Senate that long and raised his money much more swiftly.

The McCain campaign has made much of the fact that Obama asked former Fannie CEO Jim Johnson — one of Washington's Democratic heavyweights — to lead his VP search committee. Johnston bowed out after questions arose about his personal finances. The GOP has also tried to promote the idea of a close tie between Obama and Franklin Raines, who succeeded Johnson at Fannie and left under a cloud. It's a stretch, based on one line in a Washington Post story that Raines denies and even the reporter suggests has been overblown.

McCain's way down the money list — $21,300 since 1989.

But McCain's campaign manager and longtime consultant, Rick Davis, is a cofounder of Davis Manafort, a lobbying firm. Freddie and Fannie hired Davis Manafort several years ago at $30,000 a month to run the Homeowners Alliance, essentially a front group to promote Fannie and Freddie's interests in DC. The alliance closed down in 2006, and Freddie hired DM directly at $15,000 a month.

Davis Manafort did not register to lobby for Freddie, and Freddie didn't carry the contract on its lobbying budget. Two sources told me that it was a no-work contract to establish a good connection with McCain, as he made the transition from simply a powerful senator to presidential candidate.

McCain's campaign points out that Davis stopped taking a salary or ownership distribution from Davis Manafort when he joined the campaign.

But he still has an equity stake in the firm.



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