Nancy Pfotenhauer, a senior economic adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), is the former top lobbyist for Koch Industries, the right-wing corporate polluter. Her current husband, Kurt Pfotenhauer, is the CEO and top lobbyist of the American Land Title Association, “the national trade association and voice of the abstract and title insurance industry.” Until this year, Kurt was the senior vice president and top lobbyist of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), “the national association representing the real estate finance industry.”
Pfotenhauer, like his wife, is part of Washington’s revolving-door lobbyist culture. Prior to joining MBA in May 2002, Pfotenhauer was chief of staff to Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) for five years (in 2006, Smith received $14,000 in campaign contributions from the MBA PAC). Previously, Pfotenhauer was a lobbyist for United Parcel Service (UPS) for five years, and before that was chief of staff to Rep. Denny Smith (R-OR).
Kurt Pfotenhauer’s past and present clients are, of course, the real estate finance corporations that are at the center of the present financial crisis. Their predatory and deceptive lending practices in pursuit of irrational profit margins — in concert with hedge funds and investment banks who blew up toxic mortgages into towers of unregulated debt — have threatened the fiscal underpinnings of the global economy.
For years, they worked in concert with the Bush administration to block, weaken, and delay regulatory reform by Congress, such as the Predatory Mortgage Lending Practices Reduction Act of 2007, which died in the Senate. Last year, Pfotenhauer testified before Congress against the Emergency Home Ownership and Mortgage Equity Protection Act, a bill that would have allowed judges to restructure toxic mortgages to allow people to keep their homes — and would have helped prevent the current financial meltdown and bailouts.
In 2008, according to lobbying disclosure documents, Pfotenhauer lobbied Congress and the Department of Housing and Urban Development on the following major bills on behalf of the American Land Title Association:
- HR 2061, the Predatory Mortgage Lending Practices Reduction Act (killed)
- HR 1427, the Federal Housing Finance Reform Act (killed)
- HR 3221, the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 (passed)
Pfotenhauer also worked on bills by Sen. John Sununu (R-NH), and House Blue Dogs Melissa Bean (D-IL) and Paul Kanjorski (D-PA). He criticized a HUD proposal to reform RESPA regulation.
From 2005 through 2007, the Mortgage Banking Association spent $7.8 million lobbying Congress and a raft of federal agencies, with Pfotenhauer helming the shop:
Department of Housing and Urban Development, US Senate, US House of Representatives, White House, Federal Reserve Board, US Department of Treasury, Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, Ginnie Mae, Federal Housing Finance Board, US Securities and Exchange Commission, Government Accountability Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Banking Regulators, Social Security Administration, Federal Trade Commission, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Affairs Programs, RESPA, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Internal Revenue Service.
During Kurt Pfotenhauer’s tenure as their top representative in Washington, the mortgage industry grossly ballooned on predatory and deceptive practices — then careened into the disastrous collapse that has taken homes away from millions of Americans.
Sen. McCain has supposedly suspended his campaign because of the financial meltdown, although Nancy Pfotenhauer is continuing to appear on cable news shows on behalf of the campaign.
Perhaps the news bookers should call up her husband Kurt instead.
UPDATE: TPMMuckraker‘s Zachary Roth has more on Kurt Pfotenhauer, detailing how MBA “in recent years downplayed fears of a housing bubble, only to be proved spectacularly wrong. ”