Loan titans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, paid Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager and long time adviser, nearly $2 million to beat back regulatory challenges when he served as president of their advocacy group, the Homeownership Alliance.
Loan titans paid McCain adviser nearly $2 million
By David D. Kirkpatrick and Charles Duhigg
New York Times Sept. 22, 2008
John McCain's campaign manager was paid more than $30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group set up by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against stricter regulations, current and former officials say.
McCain, the Republican candidate for president, has recently begun campaigning as a critic of the two companies and the lobbying army that helped them evade greater regulation as they began buying riskier mortgages with implicit federal backing. He and his Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama, have donors and advisers who are tied to the companies.
But last week the McCain campaign stepped up a running battle of guilt by association when it began broadcasting commercials trying to link Obama directly to the government bailout of the mortgage giants this month by charging that he takes advice from Fannie Mae's former chief executive, Franklin Raines, an assertion both Raines and the Obama campaign dispute.
Incensed by the advertisements, several current and former executives of the companies came forward to discuss the role that Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager and longtime adviser, played in helping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac beat back regulatory challenges when he served as president of their advocacy group, the Homeownership Alliance, formed in the summer of 2000. Some who came forward were Democrats, but Republicans, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed their descriptions.
"The value that he brought to the relationship was the closeness to Senator McCain and the possibility that Senator McCain was going to run for president again," said Robert McCarson, a former spokesman for Fannie Mae, who said that while he worked there from 2000 to 2002, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac together paid Davis's firm $35,000 a month. Davis "didn't really do anything," McCarson, a Democrat, said.
Davis's role with the group has bubbled up as an issue in the campaign, but the extent of his compensation and the details of his role have not been reported previously.
McCain was never a leading critic or defender of the mortgage giants, although several former executives of the companies said Davis did draw McCain to a 2004 awards banquet that the companies' Homeownership Alliance held in a Senate office building. The organization printed a photograph of McCain at the event in its 2004 annual report, bolstering its clout and credibility. The event honored several other elected officials, including at least two Democrats, Governor Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania and Representative Artur Davis of Alabama.