Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s (R-MN) quest for the White House has thus far failed to catch fire with voters or big money donors. In a potential bid to rake in donations from the financial sector, Pawlenty has begun demanding a repeal of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a set of reforms enacted last year to prevent another meltdown and guard consumers from abusive lending practices.
Pawlenty has suggested that blame for the financial crisis rests only with the “catastrophic scandal of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,” the two government sponsored mortgage giants. But for all his bluster about Freddie Mac, which required a massive bailout in 2008, Pawlenty had no problem making Freddie’s top government enabler a leader in his presidential campaign.
When he announced his campaign, Pawlenty tapped William Strong, a vice chairman of Morgan Stanley, and Vin Weber, a veteran K Street lobbyist, as his campaign co-chairs. And Weber is not just any corporate lobbyist.
According to a review by ThinkProgress, Weber represented Freddie Mac for an entire decade, from 1998 to 2008. The partnership between Freddie Mac and Weber ended in 2008 when, as part of the government bailout deal, Freddie Mac was barred from hiring lobbyists. For some of the period Weber represented the company, his firm was paid as much as $360,000 a year to lobby for Freddie Mac. As reports from the AP and MinnPost.com from 2008 reveal, Weber helped create the “catastrophic scandal” his boss Pawlenty now laments:
Former Minnesota congressman Vin Weber’s name shows up in an AP story today about how Freddie Mac fended off regulation over the years with the help of an army of lobbyists. [...] “I’ve seen the article, and it’s pretty much correct,” Weber said today.
Pawlenty’s double standard has shades of Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. At the time, McCain tried to deflect blame from the big banks and mortgage companies to only government-backed entities like Freddie and Fannie, as Pawlenty is now attempting. However, the New York Times reported that McCain’s campaign manager at the time, Rick Davis, had been paid $2 million by Freddie and Fannie to set up a lobbying front group. The major difference? Davis ended his work for Freddie Mac in 2005. Weber, Pawlenty’s co-chair, continued to push for bailouts and loopholes for the giant well until such lobbying was barred and a taxpayer rescue was secured.