New York Times Omits Freddie Mac from Emanuel's Resume
Is it immature to say, âWe told you so?â
The Business & Media Institute on Nov. 6 noted the mediaâs tendency to grant incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel a free pass on his history with the taxpayer-rescued government sponsored enterprise (GSE) Freddie Mac. The New York Times continued the trend in a front page business profile of Emanuel Dec. 4.
Emanuel served on the GSEâs board of directors between 2000 and 2001 â a period during which the organization was mired in political contribution and accounting scandals. But you wouldnât know that from reading the Timesâ profile.
The article, âIn Banking, Top Obama Aide Made Money and Connections,â examined Emanuelâs banking career after leaving the Clinton White House in late 1998. Author Michael Luo wrote, âThe period before he was elected to a House seat from
Heavily sourced and researched, the nearly 1,700-word Times piece mentioned 12 separate companies and 16 individuals that figured in Emanuelâs career over the three years in question. But Luo didnât find space for a single mention of Emanuelâs involvement with Freddie Mac during the same time period.
Emanuel âwent on to make more than $18 million in just two-and-a-half years, turning many of his contacts in his substantial political Rolodex into paying clients and directing his negotiating prowess and trademark intensity to mergers and acquisitions,â Luo wrote. Presumably, that âprowess and trademark intensityâ is what earned him more than $260,000 in âdirectorâs feesâ from Freddie Mac in 2000 â 2001, as the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Jan. 3, 2002.
Some other numbers are missing from the Times article. Luo discussed at length Emanuelâs âstrong ties with an industry now at the heart of the economic crisis,â his ongoing relationships with financial executives, and the more than $1.5 million theyâve contributed to his congressional campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). But the Times didnât mention another number available from the CRP: the $51,750 Freddie Mac and sister organization Fannie Mae have given Emanuel.
Commendably, Luo looked into the possibility that all those contacts and all that cash from the financial service sector might have clouded Emanuelâs judgment while voting on issues of consequence to the industry, though he found âno evidenceâ of that.
But while entertaining questions of money, ethics and conflicts of interest, Luo should have noted that Freddie Mac paid a $3.8 million fine for illegal political contributions made during the years Emanuel served on its board. And that when Emanuel arrived in Congress, he served on the subcommittee charged with oversight of his former employer, Freddie Mac.