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Investigate Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac lobbying, says Bob Barr

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Atlanta, GA - "Ground zero of today's economic crisis was irresponsible mortgage lending by government-backed enterprises, most notably Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," explains Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party candidate for president. "Yet, Freddie Mac spent extravagantly to prevent Congress from imposing even loose controls over its operations. We need a full and open investigation of Freddie Mac's lobbying practices, which have cost the taxpayers so much money," notes Barr.

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"The role of Democrats Barney Frank and Chris Dodd in protecting Fannie and Freddie from meaningful federal oversight is well-known. But now increasing information is coming out on Freddie Mac's lavish payments to Republican Party consultants to protect the organizations as they drove the entire U.S. economy into the ground," observes Barr.

"Sen. John McCain has personally called for reform of Freddie Mac, but he has surrounded himself with lobbyists dedicated to picking the public's pockets," Barr notes. "Normally companies have a perfect right to hire lobbyists, even to try to pick the public's pockets, but Freddie Mac was a government-sponsored enterprise, with special privileges, including implicit government backing for its activities," says Barr.

"Between 2000 and 2005, Freddie Mac paid Rick Davis, Sen. John McCain's campaign manager, nearly $2 million to run the so-called Homeownership Alliance to oppose restrictions on Freddie's ability to promote mortgage lending with implicit government backing. After closing this front group, Freddie Mac paid Davis's lobbying firm, David Manafort, nearly a half-million dollars. Those payments, of $15,000 a month, only ceased in August," Barr notes.

Barr also states that Mark Buse, Sen. McCain's chief of staff, once worked at Freddie Mac, and "his lobbying group, ML Strategies, collected $460,000 between 2003 and 2004. All of that was spent to put taxpayers on the hook for ever-more expansive lending in the housing market," explains Barr. "And nearly $3 million went to the firm of William Timmons between 2000 and 2008. Sen. McCain has tapped Mr. Timmons to manage his transition to the White House if he wins the presidency," adds Barr.

"The latest revelation is that Freddie Mac paid the lobbying firm DCI $2 million to kill reform legislation authored by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.). DCI is headed by Doug Goodyear, who managed the Republican National Convention. DCI focused its efforts on Republican Senators, and in 2005, Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist refused to bring the Hagel bill up for a floor vote. DCI's efforts helped block what might have been the last best hope to stop today's housing debacle," explains Barr.

"We need an independent investigation of the money spent and tactics used by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae that enabled them to so abuse the public trust. That investigation will become even more important if Sen. McCain wins the presidency. So far, the taxpayers have been stuck with a bailout bill that exceeds $2 trillion, and the cost is likely to rise even further," observes Barr.

"Those who are responsible for today's economic mess must be held accountable, and not granted special access," insists Barr.

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Bob Barr represented the 7th District of Georgia in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003.

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