When President George W. Bush nominated Henry Paulson to serve as Treasury Secretary, Republicans raised a red flag that Paulson, who, along with his wife, has strong ties to the Democrat party, would not be an honest broker with Republicans.
That seems to have been borne out, with sources inside of Treasury reporting that Paulson briefed Sen. Barack Obama and his campaign advisers on the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout plan before offering such a briefing to the McCain campaign.
In fact, the McCain campaign had sought a similar briefing several days ago as word spread that a bailout plan was to be unveiled and had been turned down by Paulson’s senior staff.
The next question is: Why was the Obama campaign so keen on getting advanced word about the bailout?
“They have a huge problem with the mortgage and housing market story, and everyone is missing it,” says a Republican political media consultant with ties to the Obama campaign due to the bipartisan nature of the firm he does work with.
“You look at Obama’s economic advisers, the guys he has counted on from day one and who have raised him a ton — and I mean a ton — of money: Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson, both of them are waist to neck deep in the mortgage debacle.”
Both Raines and Johnson have served as CEO of Fannie Mae, with Raines taking over from Johnson. Both are key political and economic advisers to Obama.
“How can Obama go out with a straight face and saw it was Republicans who made this mess, when it is his key advisers who ran the agencies that made the big mess what it is?” says a Democrat House member who supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. “It’s his people who are responsible for what may well be the single largest government bailout in history. And every single one of them made millions off the collapse that are lining Obama’s campaign coffers. If the McCain campaign lets this one go, they deserve to lose.”
It isn’t just Fannie Mae where Obama has a problem. Another close political adviser, in fact the one man responsible for rallying support for Obama early on among Congressional Democrats, is Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who served on the Board of Directors for Freddie Mac after leaving the Clinton White House. According to Freddie Mac insiders, Emanuel during his time on the board opposed every reform proposed by the Bush Administration that would have impacted Freddie and Fannie Mae.
Emanuel claimed to be neutral in the primary race between the wife of his old boss and his longtime Chicago acquaintance, Obama. But the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, who would be first in line for the vacated Senate seat of Obama should he win the presidency, quickly dumped Clinton when it was clear Obama had a head of steam for the nomination.
“We ought to be able to — rightly — hang the Fannie and Freddie scandal around the neck of Obama, if they can get out in front,” says a House Republican. “Middle-class folks’ mortgages are probably safe, but the American taxpayer will also be paying for this scandal for years to come.”