JW Files Landmark Lawsuit to Obtain Documents Regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s Political Contributions
AUGUST 19, 2009
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to obtain documents related to political contributions made by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. According to the FHFA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac might well possess documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s initial FOIA request. However, the agency claims it is not obligated to release such documents to the public. Judicial Watch maintains that since Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are now wholly operated by the federal government through the FHFA they are subject to FOIA law.
Judicial Watch filed its FOIA request on May 29, 2009 seeking access to the following records from 2005 to the present:
a. Any and all Freddie Mac and/or Fannie Mae records concerning political campaign contributions.
b. Any and all Fannie Mae and/or Freddie Mac records concerning policies, stipulations, and/or requirements concerning campaign contributions.
The FHFA acknowledged receipt of Judicial Watch’s FOIA request in a July 1, 2009 letter, claiming that it had no documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s request. However, the letter also stated that while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac might possess the requested documents, the FHFA was not obligated to release them under FOIA allegedly because they do not “control” them. Judicial Watch appealed this decision on July 24. However this appeal was denied by FHFA on August 4, prompting Judicial Watch’s lawsuit. The two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) are in conservatorship under FHFA, which has full control over Fannie and Freddie, including their records. In addition to the $840 billion in taxpayer funds (from the Fed and Treasury) already spend on behalf the GSEs, taxpayers face a potential liability of $5.4 trillion from Fannie and Freddie.
Overall, members of Congress have received more than $4.8 million in political contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the last ten years. According to OpenSecrets.org, from 1998 through 2008, the top ten recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s political largess, are as follows: Senator Dodd (D-CT), then-Senator Obama (D-IL), Senator Kerry (D-MA), Senator Bennett (R-UT), Rep. Bachus (R-AL), Rep. Blunt (R-MO), Rep. Kanjorski (D-PA), Senator Bond (R-MO), Senator Shelby (R-AL), Senator Reed (D-RI). Senator Dodd, the top recipient of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac campaign contributions, is Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee responsible for regulating the mortgage industry. Notably, President Obama was a top recipient of campaign monies despite being in the Senate for only three years.
“So much for the new era of transparency from the Obama administration…The decision to keep Fannie and Freddie’s political contribution records secret conveniently protects President Obama, his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and his top party allies on the Hill. And more than a few Republicans stand to benefit from this improper secrecy,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Fannie and Freddie funneled ‘profits’ from backing risky mortgages to politicians like Barack Obama. In turn, these politicians protected Fannie and Freddie from proper oversight of the risks they were taking with taxpayer-funds. More than anything else, this fundamentally corrupt scheme led to the collapse of the housing market and the financial crisis. No wonder the Obama administration doesn’t want us to see what is in Fannie’s and Freddie’s records.”