Frank was and remains a stalwart defender of Fannie Mae, which is now under FBI investigation along with its sister organization Freddie Mac, American International Group Inc. (NYSE:AIG) and Lehman Brothers (NYSE:LEH) " all recently participants in government bailouts. But Frank has derailed efforts to regulate the institution, as well as denying it posed any financial risk. Frank’s office has been unresponsive to efforts by the Business & Media Institute to comment on these potential conflicts of interest.
While the relationship reportedly ended 10 years ago, Frank was serving on the House Banking Committee the entire 10 years they were together. The committee is the primary House body which along with the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) has jurisdiction over the government-sponsored enterprises.
He has served on the committee since becoming a congressman in 1981 and became the ranking Democrat on the committee in 2003. He became chairman of the committee, now called the House Financial Services Committee, in 2007.
Moses was the assistant director for product initiatives at Fannie Mae and had been at the forefront of relaxing lending restrictions at the company for rural customers, according to the Feb. 23, 1998, issue of National Mortgage News (NMN).
“Herb Moses, who helped develop many of Fannie Mae’s affordable housing and home improvement lending programs, has left the mortgage industry,” Darryl Hicks wrote for NMN. “Mr. Moses - whose last day was Feb. 13 - spent the past seven years at Fannie Mae, most recently as director of housing initiatives. Over the course of time, he played an instrumental role in developing the company’s Title One and 203(k) home improvement lending programs.”
Hicks explained in his story how Moses orchestrated a collaborative effort between Fannie Mae and the Department of Agriculture.
“The Dartmouth grad also played a crucial role in brokering a relationship between Fannie Mae and the Department of Agriculture,” Hicks wrote. “This led to the creation of Fannie Mae’s rural housing program where the secondary marketing agency agreed to purchase small farm loans insured through the department.”
While Moses served at Fannie Mae and was Frank’s partner, Frank was actively working to support GSEs, according to several news outlets.
In 1991, Frank and former Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., lobbied for Fannie to soften rules on multi-family home mortgages although those dwellings showed a default rate twice that of single-family homes, according to the Nov. 22, 1991, Boston Globe.
BusinessWeek reported in its Nov. 14, 1994, issue that Fannie Mae called on Frank to exert his influence against a Housing & Urban Development proposal that would force the GSE to focus on minority and low-income buyers and police bias by lenders regardless of their location. Fannie Mae opposed HUD on the issue because it claimed doing so would “ignore the urban middle class.”
Moses left Fannie in 1998 to start his own pottery business. National Mortgage News called Moses a “mortgage guru” and said he developed “many of Fannie Mae's affordable housing and home improvement lending programs. Moses ended his relationship with Frank just months after he left Fannie.
Even after the relationship ended, however, Frank was a staunch defender of Fannie Mae even as other experts suggested there were serious problems building in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
According to an article by Kathleen Day in the Oct. 8, 2003, Washington Post, Frank opposed giving the Bush administration the right to approve or disapprove business activities that “could pose risk to the taxpayers.” He told the Post he worried the Treasury Department “would sacrifice activities that are good for consumers in the name of lowering the companies’ market risks.”
Just a month before, Frank had aggressively thwarted reform efforts by the Bush administration. He told The New York Times on Sept. 11, 2003, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s problems were “exaggerated,” a gross miscalculation some five years later with costs estimated to be in the hundreds of billions.
“These two entities " Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac " are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” Frank said to the Times. “The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”
Frank has also reaped campaign contribution benefits from Fannie Mae and its counterpart Freddie Mac. According a front page story in the Sept. 19, 2008, Investor’s Business Daily by Terry Jones, Frank has received $40,100 in campaign cash over the past two decades from the GSEs.
Frank is ranked 16th on a list that includes both houses of Congress and fifth among his colleagues in the House. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org, political action committees financed by both Freddie and Fannie have contributed $3,017,797 to members of Congress since 1989. And according to the July 16 issue of Politico, the two entities have spent a whopping $200 million to buy influence " including not only campaign donations to members of Congress, but also presidential campaigns and lobbying efforts.
In a July 23 op-ed, Wall Street Journal Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot put the blame for the GSEs’ collapse firmly on the members of the liberal establishment who took money from Freddie and Fannie. “Fan and Fred also couldn't prosper for as long as they have without the support of the political left... This includes Mr. Frank and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) on Capitol Hill, as well as Mr. [Paul] Krugman and the Washington Post's Steven Pearlstein in the press.”
Frank was asked by CNN’s John Roberts on the Sept. 22, 2008 “American Morning” about this and his opposition to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Originally, he claimed he didn’t think the two GSEs were facing any problems when the issue first surfaced in 2003. He instead blamed the Republican-controlled Congress for their ultimate fall, failing to mention his friendly relationship with Fannie Mae and the contributions it had made to his campaign over the years.
“Yes, I did not think we were facing a crisis in 2003, but that didn't mean we didn't have to have reform,” an animated Frank said when confronted with the question. “Here’s the deal, the Republicans controlled Congress from 1995 through 2006. They did zero to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”
However, on Sept. 17, 2008, former Bush administration Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove elaborated on the Bush administration’s efforts to curb abuses at the two GSEs in 2003. He told Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes” that Frank was among the most aggressive opponents of White House attempts to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“All of this bad stuff on Wall Street happened because people got greedy and the greed started at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” Rove said. “And I know this because five years ago, the administration was alerted by the regulator, James Lockhart, that there was insufficient authority and that these institutions " particularly Fannie " were out of control.”
Give me a break. The DEMS are just as guilty for the current mess.
Are you that naive/partisan to think either party give a **** about anything but the power base?