HOW WASHINGTON FAILED TO REIN IN FANNIE & FREDDIE: Basically, it was bought off. “Blessed with the advantages of a government agency and a private company at the same time, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac used their windfall profits to co-opt the politicians who were supposed to control them. . . . Fannie Mae, and to a lesser extent Freddie Mac, became enmeshed in the fabric of political Washington. They were places former government officials went to get wealthy — and to wait for new federal appointments. At Fannie Mae, chief executives had clauses written into their contracts spelling out the severance benefits they would receive if they left for a government post. The companies also donated generously to the campaigns of favored politicians.”
And when they couldn’t massage, they intimidated. In 2003, Richard H. Baker (R-La.), chairman of the House Financial Services subcommittee with oversight over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, got information from OFHEO on the salaries paid to executives at both companies. Fannie Mae threatened to sue Baker if he released it, he recalled. Fearing the expense of a court battle, he kept the data secret for a year. Baker, who left office in February, said he had never received a comparable threat from another company in 21 years in Congress. “The political arrogance exhibited in their heyday, there has never been before or since a private entity that exerted that kind of political power,” he said.
As rocks start being turned over, we’ll hear more stories like this or I miss my guess.
UPDATE: Reader C.J. Burch writes: “I’m looking at the article. Does it mention which politicos took the cash?” That rock won’t be turned over until after the election, if they have anything to say about it. But here’s a place to start. Also here. Plus, the ubiquity of Jamie Gorelick, who seems to be on the scene for many Washington debacles.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A deafening silence from Obama. (Bumped).