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During a campaign speech in Green Bay, Wis., John McCain called for reforms on Wall Street oversight and blasted his Democratic opponent Barack Obama.
Among his prime targets: the mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
"While Fannie and Freddie were working to keep Congress away from their house of cards, Senator Obama was taking their money," McCain said. "He got more, in fact, than any other member of Congress, except for the Democratic chairmen of the committee that oversees them. And while Fannie Mae was betraying the public trust, somehow its former CEO had managed to gain my opponent's trust to the point that Senator Obama actually put him in charge of his vice presidential search."
It's true that Obama selected Jim Johnson, the chaiman and CEO of Fannie Mae from 1991 to 1998, to advise him on his vice presidential choice. But Johnson resigned the unpaid position on June 11, 2008, months before veep nominee Joe Biden was chosen, amid criticism of compensation and favorable mortgage terms Johnson received.
Here we'll look at McCain's statement that Obama received the second-most campaign contributions from Fannie Mae.
The source for this data is the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which has compiled a list of which political leaders received the most money from employees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Obama's campaign cites this source to back up its claim that John McCain has received more than $2-million from big oil .
On the Freddie and Fannie question, it as McCain said: Obama is No. 2 on the list, with $126,349, right after Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, who had $165,400.
But the list requires a few notes of explanation.
Corporations cannot give to candidates, so the center's list adds up contributions from Fannie and Freddie employees and their families. Obama has received a lot of money during his presidential campaign, though, and Fannie and Freddie don't make his list of top 20 companies. (The top three companies with employees donating to Obama are Goldman Sachs, University of California, and Citigroup, according to the center.)
The New York Times looked at contributions from Fannie and Freddie's boards of directors and lobbyists, who are technically not employees. That analysis found Fannie and Freddie-related contributors gave $169,000 to John McCain and his related committees, compared with $16,000 to Obama and his related committees.
Nevertheless, the center's information does reflect which candidates are getting the most money from Fannie and Freddie employees. There are other ways to parse the campaign finance numbers, but McCain is correct when he says Obama got the second-most money on a list compiled by a respected, nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog. He would have been more accurate if he would have noted that he was talking about Fannie and Freddie employees. We rate his statement Mostly True.
Center for Responsive Politics, Update: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Invest in Lawmakers , Sept. 11, 2008
Center for Responsive Politics, Barack Obama: Top Contributors , accessed Sept. 19, 2008
New York Times, ’08 Rivals Have Ties to Loan Giants , Sept. 9, 2008
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