Fannie Mae Didn’t Just Pay Its Execs


There’s another side to the stories today about accounting fraud at Fannie Mae, the quasi-government corporation that insures mortgages – and that is that during the period when the fraud was alleged to take place, the company was one of the biggest soft money donors in the nation.

Beginning in 1997, and continuing through late 2002, Fannie Mae contributed some $3.5 million to national political party committees, according to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The money was split almost equally between the Democratic (47%) and Republican (53%) parties.

In fact, their pattern of giving could best be described as “aggressive bipartisanship,” with big checks going out to both parties almost simultaneously. Most of the money went to the parties’ four congressional fundraising committees – one for each party in the House and Senate.

Here are the totals to each committee from 1997-2002:

National Republican Congressional Committee      $843,650
National Republican Senatorial Committee            $615,265
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee   $666,500
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee         $644,500
Democratic National Committee                           $302,000
Republican National Committee                           $226,470
Other Republican Party committees                      $170,000

And here’s a taste of that aggressive bipartisanship:

4/5/2001     Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte             $100,000
5/9/2001     Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte             $100,000
5/11/2001   Republican National Cmte                                    $51,470
5/24/2001   Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte       $100,000
6/12/2001   Republican National Cmte                                  $100,000
6/22/2001   National Republican Congressional Cmte          $100,000
6/22/2001   National Republican Congressional Cmte          $100,000
6/29/2001   National Republican Senatorial Cmte                 $100,000
8/30/2001   Democratic National Cmte                                    $75,000
11/28/2001 Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte         $25,000
12/10/2001 National Republican Senatorial Cmte                 $100,000

One personal note: I remember well when these contributions started rolling in. I was at CRP at the time and started scratching my head wondering why a quasi-government corporation would be giving that kind of serious money to the parties’ congressional committees. This was the same era when similar gestures were being made by other high-flyers who later got into trouble, most notably Enron and Global Crossing.

Interestingly, Fannie Mae’s soft money contributions – though unusual – were not the biggest from a quasi-government corporation at the time. That honor went to Freddie Mac, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Freddie Mac’s soft money over the same period amounted to nearly $7.3 million. Republicans got 60% of that, Democrats got 40%.