McCain’s latest Rick Davis problem

MCCAIN’S LATEST RICK DAVIS PROBLEM…. Last week, John McCain decided Barack Obama’s associations with former Fannie Mae officials were extremely important, worthy of attack ads and overheated speeches. But I might remind the Republican nominee that people who live in seven glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Senator John McCain’s campaign manager was paid more than $30,000 a month for five years as president of an advocacy group set up by the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to defend them against stricter regulations, current and former officials say.

Mr. McCain, the Republican candidate for president, has recently begun campaigning as a critic of the two companies and the lobbying army that helped them evade greater regulation as they began buying riskier mortgages with implicit federal backing. He and his Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama, have donors and advisers who are tied to the companies.

But last week the McCain campaign stepped up a running battle of guilt by association when it began broadcasting commercials trying to link Mr. Obama directly to the government bailout of the mortgage giants this month by charging that he takes advice from Fannie Mae’s former chief executive, Franklin Raines, an assertion both Mr. Raines and the Obama campaign dispute.

Incensed by the advertisements, several current and former executives of the companies came forward to discuss the role that Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager and longtime adviser, played in helping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac beat back regulatory challenges when he served as president of their advocacy group, the Homeownership Alliance, formed in the summer of 2000.

Robert McCarson, a former spokesman for Fannie Mae, told the New York Times, “The value that [Davis] brought to the relationship was the closeness to Senator McCain and the possibility that Senator McCain was going to run for president again.”

In other words, Fannie and Freddie paid Davis $35,000 a month, for years, so they could get access to Senator McCain, and ultimately, President McCain. Why? Because the companies hoped to continue to avoid government regulations of their business practices.

Just last week, McCain, with unusual incoherence, went after Obama with this line: “While the leaders of Fannie and Freddie were lining the pockets of his campaign, they were sowing the seeds of the financial crisis we see today and enriching themselves with millions of dollars in payments. That’s not change, that’s what’s broken in Washington.”

Um, John? Those leaders of Fannie and Freddie were lining Rick Davis’ pockets with $2 million, and you made him your campaign manager. Is that “change”?

Obama met Franklin Raines once, for about five minutes, and McCain thinks the association is scandalous. Given this, shouldn’t McCain necessarily feel compelled to fire his campaign manager immediately?

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