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Back in the George W. Bush era, Barney Frank, either in his role as a senior member or Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was one of the Congress’s biggest cheerleaders for Fannie Mae, the Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) at the heart of the financial meltdown of 2008. The Massachusetts Democrat repeatedly opposed Republican proposals for greater oversight of the GSEs, famously saying in 2003, “I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing. . . .“
In 2008, we learned that Mr. Frank had a conflict of interest:
While Frank served on the House Banking Committee in the 1990s [as what is now the Financial Services was then called], his partner, Herb Moses, worked at Fannie Mae as assistant director of product initiatives from 1991 to 1998. The two lived together at that time, breaking up in 1998, “a few months after Moses ended his seven-year tenure at Fannie Mae.”
I later wrote my Congressman asking Henry Waxman to refer this matter to the House Ethics Committee. Today, we learn that Mr. Frank’s conflict of interest was far greater than we had initially reported. In the Boston Herald, Howie Carr reports that in a new book, Reckless Endangerment, New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson reveals that Barney got his partner a job:
“Frank actually called up the company (Fannie Mae) and asked them to hire his companion, who had just gotten an MBA from the Amos Tuck School of Business (at Dartmouth). . . . Of course the company was happy to provide a job for his companion and rolled out the red carpet in a series of interviews with a variety of executives, and it ultimately did hire the man.”
Wonder how the media would react if a journalist reported that a Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee got her husband a job at the Pentagon.
Also in the Herald, Dave Wedge reports that Frank admitted that he helped his then-partner land a job a the GSE, also sharing with his readers some of Morgenson’s commentary on the matter:
In an interview Tuesday on WBUR’s “Fresh Air,” Morgensen said Frank “was very aggressive and really tough on those who were testifying in Congress about reining in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” during hearings after Moses was hired. She said Fannie Mae “rolled out the red carpet” for Moses as part of a strategy to curry favor with Frank and other members of the Financial Services Committee.
All those who believe in “marriage equality,” that is, in treating gay relationships the same as we treat heterosexual ones, should join me in demanding that this matter be referred to the House Ethics Committee and that Mr. Frank relinquish his role as Ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee until that investigation is complete.