Obama transition adviser undermined Fannie Mae oversight as lobbyist

posted at 11:25 am on November 17, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Thomas Donilon, named by Barack Obama as an adviser to his transition team, oversaw lobbyist efforts to undermine OFHEO’s regulatory efforts over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  ABC News reports on Donilon’s history and his participation in painting a much rosier picture than reality provided for Fannie Mae’s board.  The Obama rebuttal will sound familiar to those who recall Jim Johnson’s involvement with Obama’s campaign:

One of Obama’s top transition team members, Thomas Donilon, oversaw an aggressive, backdoor lobbying campaign by mortgage giant Fannie Mae to undermine the credibility of a probe into the firm’s accounting irregularities, according to a 2006 government report on the company.

The effort — which reportedly included attacks on the funding for the oversight agency, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, and an attempt to launch a separate investigation into OFHEO itself — was ultimately unsuccessful, and regulators eventually discovered top Fannie Mae executives had been manipulating the company’s financial reporting to maximize their bonuses.

When ABC approached Team Obama for their response, they claimed that because Donilon has volunteered his time to the transition, they have no responsibility for him:

When asked about Donilon’s place in the Obama transition team, Obama spokesperson Tommy Vietor said in a statement that “Mr. Donilon is volunteering his time and more than 30 years of accomplishment to help prepare the State Department for an efficient transition to the President-elect, who is taking office at a time of war and when we are confronting a complex and challenging international environment. Mr. Donilon’s experience in foreign affairs as Assistant Secretary of State and Chief of Staff at the State Department is critical to this review process.”

Sound familiar?  It approximates Obama’s response when people pointed out that the man he picked to lead his VP search team was one of the greedy executives he’d been demonizing on the campaign trail:

I would have to hire the vetter to vet the vetters. I mean at some point, we just asked people to do their assignments. Jim Johnson has a very discrete task, as does Eric Holder, and that is simply to gather up information about potential vice presidential candidates. They’re performing that job well. It’s a volunteer, unpaid position. … So these aren’t folks who are working for me, they’re not people who I have assigned to a particular job in a future administration.

That statement no longer applies, apparently.  Donilon has already begun working in some capacity for the transition, which is the core of Obama’s coming administration. The volunteerism of former Fannie Mae executives and power players seems remarkable, until one recalls that Obama took money hand over fist from Fannie/Freddie sources — over $30,000 per year while in the Senate, far outstripping anyone else in Congress.

How interesting that Obama keeps selecting lobbyists for his transition team after spending most of his time over the past year issuing populist pap vilifying them.  Among Fannie Mae’s culprits, Donilon occupies a special place, having successfully blocked regulators who tried to correct the corruption at the GSE as well as having misled board members to the extent of the fraud.  He should be the target of an investigation, not an adviser to an incoming administration — and his inclusion on Obama’s team exposes Obama’s talk of “change” as a fraud in itself.


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Hope & Change

portlandon on November 17, 2008 at 11:30 AM

I love the smell of Hopenchange in the morning.

HawaiiLwyr on November 17, 2008 at 11:31 AM

I’ve been screaming about Donilon for months. He was also the chief prepper of Obama for the first debate on foreign policy. It’s hard to understate the brass knuckles that he swung at Fannie Mae. I’ve nver seen anything like the effort Fannie made to smear Armando Falcon and get him fired.

Donilon is obviously not working on anything related to Fannie and Freddie in the transition. But still, with his track record he ought to be one of those people who is simply radioactive in an administration that campaigned so publicly against the corrupting influence of lobbyists.

rockmom on November 17, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Say it ain’t so Ed? A Corrupt Chicago Machine Politician who spent his time in DC courting every manner of corrupt lobbyist scum?

Why, that could never happen!

BKennedy on November 17, 2008 at 11:32 AM

The DC backscratching crowd is all over this man.

lodge on November 17, 2008 at 11:32 AM

I’m shocked…SHOCKED!!!

portlandon on November 17, 2008 at 11:33 AM

Obama got your votes America, you can shut up now. Relax and enjoy the Thugocracy you elected.

tyrfing on November 17, 2008 at 11:33 AM

Latest plan to reward the crooked?

DL13 on November 17, 2008 at 11:34 AM

When all you have are money grubing lobbist like friends…

upinak on November 17, 2008 at 11:34 AM

“All The Presidents Men” (part two) written over the next two years while the highest office in the land turns into wasteland for corruption. Change?

Rovin on November 17, 2008 at 11:36 AM

It’s like a criminal lineup. Only the criminals are the ones on the viewing side of the one-way glass.

*eats*

Grue in the Attic on November 17, 2008 at 11:36 AM

The puppet and his string pullers…

Lots of markers being called in.

This will never end. A new day, an new load of B.S. shoveled on top of the masses.

tru2tx on November 17, 2008 at 11:36 AM

What I just wrote on the lawyer post? Same here again ditto deux.

Doug on November 17, 2008 at 11:37 AM

Wake me when he hires an honest man.

jacrews on November 17, 2008 at 11:39 AM

Goodness Gracious Alive! Am not surprised!

sheebe on November 17, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Anyone see this morning’s NYTs article on how the entire global economic crisis is basically Phil Gramm’s fault?

AmericanUnderground on November 17, 2008 at 11:45 AM

How interesting that Obama keeps selecting lobbyists for his transition team after spending most of his time over the past year issuing populist pap vilifying them.

The one thing that both Obama’s biggest supporters and biggest detractors agreed on was that Obama was lying during the campaign in order to get the “rubes” to vote for him.

His supporters endorse this. They were counting on him to be a fraud and their greatest hopes are being realized. All we detractors can say now is “told you so” but that’s very small consolation.

Gilda on November 17, 2008 at 11:48 AM

Fannie and Freddie.
Next comes the Big 3. How much $$ did the UAW and other related unions give Barack? Why isn’t his push for a bailout seen as helping a huge donor (as it would have been had Bush bailed out Enron)?

MayBee on November 17, 2008 at 11:49 AM

Wake me when he hires an honest man.

jacrews on November 17, 2008 at 11:39 AM

You might be napping for four (or more) years. Actually, not a bad idea :)

Karen_VA on November 17, 2008 at 11:51 AM

The “change” is that they aren’t going to even try to hide the crooks they’re hiring for the new administration.
Washington, done Chicago-style.

n0doz on November 17, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Judgement.

For a man supposedly hired for judgement the list of unsavory characters involved with Obama seems to be getting longer and longer.

Speaking of unsavory, anybody see Joe Biden lately?

highhopes on November 17, 2008 at 11:55 AM

The “change” is that they aren’t going to even try to hide the crooks they’re hiring for the new administration.
Washington, done Chicago-style.

n0doz on November 17, 2008 at 11:53 AM

Why bother, even at HA there are trolls out there defending each and every crook being hired.

highhopes on November 17, 2008 at 11:56 AM

It seem the generic mantra of “change” Obama kept invoking has finally been defined … “change” your mind!

beththebaker on November 17, 2008 at 11:58 AM

Enough economy talk…how’s the hunt for a new White House puppy going?

strosfan on November 17, 2008 at 12:02 PM

Hopey Changey. I wonder if the Obamanites will ever acknowledge they were wrong and are getting screwed by the one?

Geronimo on November 17, 2008 at 12:02 PM

Excuse me, but I thought that the Obama camp had a 63 question list with no lifelines available? So how could a guy with that kind of baggage get past the ‘Hope and Change’ police?

Dr. Dog on November 17, 2008 at 12:03 PM

Ignorance is bliss. Isn’t it amazing how happy Obama voters are, and how miserable we are? They just don’t care to know.

marklmail on November 17, 2008 at 12:04 PM

The Huns are inside the gates.

baldilocks on November 17, 2008 at 12:06 PM

This won’t matter one whit to the Obots.
Unless Obama is caught in bed with a corpse or a young boy, nothing will change the adulation the people feel for this man.

ToddonCapeCod on November 17, 2008 at 12:07 PM

They’re performing that job well. It’s a volunteer, unpaid position. … So these aren’t folks who are working for me,

The way Dear Leader, ah, shades the language puts Bill Clinton to shame. I’m going to start missing the days of “it depends upon what the definition of is is”.

rbj on November 17, 2008 at 12:11 PM

So, we won’t be surprised or ask questions when Bill Ayers, Rev, Wright, et al volunteer their time in the new Hope and Change Administration.
Whew- glad that’s behind us.

Amendment X on November 17, 2008 at 12:14 PM

I have a feeling, most Obama cult members are too dense and uninterested to even follow these complicated issues (I can hear it now, “who is this Fannie Mae lady they keep bringing up?”) let alone find the effort to be angered over this.

But, it’s okay, they only supported Obama because he was “youthful” and “cool.” Yes, 20 year old college kids suddenly thought a 50 year old in a business suit was “cool” yet they had no idea what he even stood for (and they still don’t).

TheBlueSite on November 17, 2008 at 12:17 PM

He should be the target of an investigation, not an adviser to an incoming administration — and his inclusion on Obama’s team exposes Obama’s talk of “change” as a fraud in itself.

We the people are not important anymore now that the One has fooled them.

Kevin in Washington State on November 17, 2008 at 12:18 PM

Just a…er…ah…guy in the neighborhood.

whitetop on November 17, 2008 at 12:18 PM

The tar baby is Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Every Obama appointee in the economic sector seems to have a hand in having made those turn into the spear into the heart of the world economy.

But Obama has to work with his friends, and they were all, including Obama, desirous of having NINJA loans continue…

unclesmrgol on November 17, 2008 at 12:19 PM

It’s just more fodder for the next election ads.

Phoenician on November 17, 2008 at 12:19 PM

I get Obama’s strategy now.

Prevent bank robberies by hiring bank robbers.

Texas Gal on November 17, 2008 at 12:35 PM

Excuse me, but I thought that the Obama camp had a 63 question list with no lifelines available? So how could a guy with that kind of baggage get past the ‘Hope and Change’ police?

Dr. Dog on November 17, 2008 at 12:03 PM

Yes, the MSM is reporting on how “tough” Obama’s hiring standards are — yet not a peep out of them about how professional corruptocrats like this criminal are actually running things in “The Office of the President-Elect.”

Beyond sickening.

AZCoyote on November 17, 2008 at 12:36 PM

Can someone please explain to me why the RNC and the McCain campaign didn’t bombard the airwaves with Freddie and Fannie ads throughout the campaign? The opportunity to lay this economic mess where it belongs was so badly ignored and mismanaged that I still can’t understand their reasoning behind the decision. Imagine how many seats in Congress could have been saved and the additional votes for McCain, if day after day ads showed the democrats defending Freddie and Fannie. So frustrating.

edwina on November 17, 2008 at 12:56 PM

All we need now is nephew Christopher and Pauly Walnuts.

Mr_Magoo on November 17, 2008 at 12:59 PM

I don’t know about the progress of hopenchange, but BO is sure making great strides on changinhope. At this point the future is starting to look hopeless.

cjk on November 17, 2008 at 1:15 PM

Wake me when he hires an honest man.
jacrews: that’ll take 4-8 years, or 10, or more…

Christine on November 17, 2008 at 1:42 PM

Excuse me, but I thought that the Obama camp had a 63 question list with no lifelines available? So how could a guy with that kind of baggage get past the ‘Hope and Change’ police?

Dr. Dog on November 17, 2008 at 12:03 PM

These ‘concerns’ are resume enhancements. Obama needs an administration that can accept, plan, and execute Chicago-style tactics to make sure things get done favorably. The vetting questions are to make sure that no closet conservatives or people of conscience make their way into the administration who might leak or undermine the Obama doctrine. Communist party memebers, terrorists, domestic bombers, defenders of presidential assasins / Cuba, and hatefilled ministers go to the top of the list.

jerseyman on November 17, 2008 at 1:44 PM

We cannot change Washington by bringing back the same people to sit in different chairs.

— Barack Obama, March, 2008

rockmom on November 17, 2008 at 1:44 PM

It’s simple, folks…

PE-BHO has HOPE that you will not notice the lack of CHANGE.

In about a year, when the HOPE AND CHANGE has changed to PANIC AND DESPAIR the liberals will blame: Bush, Cheney, Allah, Joe the Plumber, or that unmarried, gay, illegal-alien cab driver in Grand Forks.

Yoop on November 17, 2008 at 1:58 PM

I wonder if the Obamanites will ever acknowledge they were wrong and are getting screwed by the one?

Geronimo on November 17, 2008 at 12:02 PM

According to them, getting screwed is patriotic.

In about a year, when the HOPE AND CHANGE has changed to PANIC AND DESPAIR the liberals will blame: Bush, Cheney, Allah, Joe the Plumber, or that unmarried, gay, illegal-alien cab driver in Grand Forks.

Yoop on November 17, 2008 at 1:58 PM

Another reason I refuse to drive over to east river country.

Badger40 on November 17, 2008 at 2:08 PM

This is not the transition team I thought I knew. (And comedians can’t find anything humorous about this guy).
Anyway, this brings to mind the new defense in tort lawsuits against the fed gov’t. He’s just a volunteer, we have no control or supervision over him. Lib judge, ok, case dismissed.

eaglewingz08 on November 18, 2008 at 7:32 AM