Years before Fannie Mae foundered amid a massive accounting scandal, President Obama's choice for national security adviser oversaw an office inside the mortgage giant that orchestrated a negative publicity blitz to fight attempts by Congress to increase government oversight, records show.Somehow, that just doesn't seem the background of a penetrating national security adviser. How does being a lobbyist for an entity that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars qualify someone as a national security adviser?
Thomas E. Donilon, who won the job as national security adviser this month, worked as a registered lobbyist for Fannie Mae from 1999 to 2005 at a time the company's officials insisted finances were sound. He also earned more than $1.8 million in bonuses before the government took over the troubled company in the wake of an accounting scandal.
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Mr. Obama, who railed against lobbyists on the campaign trail, hailed Mr. Donilon's appointment last week, but made no mention of his time as a registered lobbyist.
Mr. Donilon's work came under scrutiny in a 2006 report by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), which found that Fannie Mae lobbyists - working in an office overseen by Mr. Donilon - parlayed their ties to members of Congress to try to discredit federal regulators looking into the finances of the company.
"Thus, Fannie Mae succeeded in creating a large volume of negative publicity about the OFHEO examination report, in an effort to distract attention from its multibillion-dollar accounting errors," the OFHEO report concluded.
In addition, the report noted that the publicity campaign, which included leaking nonpublic information, was conceived and executed by Fannie Mae's government and industry relations department, but was still "well known" to Mr. Donilon and other senior executives.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Imagine hiring a former lobbyist for Enron to be the chief adviser to the president. That is the equivalent of having Fannie Mae's chief lobbyist promoted to top security adviser to President Obama.