Monday, September 22, 2008

McCain's Mortgage Lobbyist -- And Obama's Smear Team

Glass houses and all that.

The McCain camp has strongly criticized Obama for having links to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the failed mortgage giants. But McCain has his own ties, and one of them was revealed recently: McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, was paid $30,000 a month for five years to defend Fannie and Freddie against government regulation. (H/t to commenter doug.)

“You can say what you want about free-market distortions, but people like the system because it gets them into houses cheap,” Mr. Davis said to Institutional Investor magazine in 2000, adding that he would run the advocacy group out of his Alexandria, Va., lobbying firm.

That article appeared in today's New York Times. But U.S. News & World Report had it first, in a Sept. 19 blog post.

As John McCain said in remarks today:

The financial crisis we're living through today started with the corruption and manipulation of our home mortgage system. At the center of the problem were the lobbyists, politicians, and bureaucrats who succeeded in persuading Congress and the administration to ignore the festering problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

It seems a little bizarre then that McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis was hired—after running McCain's failed 2000 presidential campaign—to head up a group called the Homeownership Alliance, a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac advocacy group, which the Wall Street Journal reported (in August 2000) had a website creed of being dedicated to: "exposing and defeating trends that would harm consumer access to the lowest-cost mortgage option." The group viewed as threats those who are "seeking to spread unfounded fears about risks to the housing system."

* * * * * * * * * *

Commenter Mike K. pointed out that Obama's campaign very likely is linked to a smear campaign against Sarah Palin. This is the result of a considerable amount of digging in the blogosphere.

Michelle Malkin neatly summarizes the evidence:

A collaborative investigative effort by our friends at The Jawa Report to expose an apparently astroturfed, anti-Sarah Palin smear campaign seems to have caused late-night panic in Barack Obama-linked p.r. circles. The bloggers digging into the provenance of anti-Sarah Palin smears on the web got results last night/early this morning while most elite journalists were still in their pajamas sleeping.

First, read this. Read the whole thing. Rusty Shackleford — with help from Jane of Armies of Liberation, Stable Hand, the Jawa team, Dan Riehl, Ace of Spades, and Patterico – traced a Palin-bashing YouTube video to a Democrat public relations firm, Winner and Associates, and one of its employees, Ethan S. Winner. They believe the voiceover for the ad — which spreads the lie that Sarah Palin belonged to a fringe third party, the Alaska Independence Party — was done by a professional whose voice they believe was also featured in several Obama ads and other spots produced by Obama top strategist and astroturfer extraordinaire David Axelrod’s firm.

UPDATE: Astroturfing is a particularly loathsome form of deceptive PR that creates the illusion of public sentiment for something by such tactics as planting manufactured evidence and ginning up phony support for some cause by operatives claiming to be just folks.

Here is a link to a Businessweek article describing Axelrod as the "master of Astroturfing".

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