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Following the money

CAMPAIGN '08: RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE : On the Trail
/ FREDDIE AND FANNIE

September 09, 2008|Dan Morain

The federal takeover of mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae may stabilize the economy and help the housing industry. But politicians could take a hit, particularly Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Employees of the government-sponsored firms, which own or guarantee half of the nation's mortgages, have donated almost $4.3 million to federal elected officials and their various campaign committees since 2005.

Obama is the largest individual recipient at about $112,000, federal campaign finance reports show.

One reason Obama has collected the most is that he has raised far more than any other federal candidate, $390 million so far. The mortgage money has not influenced Obama's stands, a campaign aide said.

The candidate has "consistently supported stepped-up regulation for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to ensure that instead of rewarding speculators who relied on the government to reap massive profits, taxpayers and struggling homeowners are protected," the aide said.

Republican nominee John McCain has taken $16,400 from Freddie and Fannie employees since 2005. McCain campaign manager Rick Davis is past president of the Homeownership Alliance, an advocacy group whose members included Freddie and Fannie. In that role, he defended the companies against increased regulation.

Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, took just one donation, for $500, from one Freddie employee.

McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, is Fannie- and Freddie-free, having never run for federal office.

-- Dan Morain

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