Barney Frank Used Influence with Fannie Mae, the Failed Mortgage Giant Bailed Out by Taxpayers

Former House Banking Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) tenaciously opposed efforts to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage giants that were bailed out at a cost to taxpayers of between $148 billion and $363 billion. Now it turns out that he got his boyfriend a “handsomely rewarded gig at Fannie Mae” while Frank “was helping to inflate the housing bubble” by pushing affordable housing mandates and policies that encouraged Fannie Mae to buy up risky mortgages.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac engaged in massive accounting fraud and other abuses. But Fannie Mae’s collapse was not entirely due to bad policies of its own making. Pressure from liberal lawmakers like Frank to buy up risky mortgages was also a factor in triggering the mortgage crisis, judging from a story in the New York Times. For example, “a high-ranking Democrat telephoned executives and screamed at them to purchase more loans from low-income borrowers, according to a Congressional source.” The executives of government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “eventually yielded to those pressures, effectively wagering that if things got too bad, the government would bail them out.”

Despite his key role in causing the financial crisis, Frank became even more influential after President Obama took office. As the New York Times noted, the massive financial overhaul later passed in response to the financial crisis is “largely the product of extensive conversations” between the Obama administration and “Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut.” That law, known as the Dodd-Frank Act, harms the economy, and violates both the Constitution’s separation of powers, and private property and equal-protection rights.

Frank’s co-sponsor of the Dodd-Frank Act, Senator Chris Dodd, left office in disgrace after ethical lapses. As Victor Davis Hanson notes, Dodd “got a sweetheart deal on an Irish ‘cottage’ from a crooked stock-trader,” “receiving it for hundreds of thousands of dollars less than its market value,” “got two preferential discount mortgage interest deals from the now-bankrupt Countrywide,” “got a sweetheart profit deal from a condo joint-buy with crook Edward Downe, Jr.,” “intervened with the Clinton administration to get the felon Downe pardoned,” and “misrepresented the value of his Irish cottage that he obtained via the agency of the dubious Mr. Kessinger.”