How Frank Raines can save his career.

A mostly political Weblog.
Dec. 25 2004 2:32 PM

How Frank Raines Can Be A Hero

And why doesn't Jim Johnson get his fair share of shame?

Mistakes Were Made! Frank Raines--Rhodes scholar, Harvard Law, Lazard Freres, potential future Treasury secretary, etc.--has blotted his copybookat Fannie Mae. (His bio has already ignominiously disappeared from its former spot on Fannie Mae's Web site.)  But unlike other semi-disgraced executives, Raines has a chance to redeem himself. How? By giving back the absurdly plush retirement package ($1.4 million a year plus stock options worth an estimated $16 million or so, according to WaPo) he'll get for leading his taxpayer-aided company to a possible $9 billion accounting loss. I think that if Raines gave it back--gave it all back--it would be such a dramatic, atypical gesture he might become something of a folk hero, turning a defeat into a PR victory. It's not as if Raines and his family would starve if he gave up the millions--he'd still have the absurdly plush pay packages he received in prior years (e.g. $10.9 million in 2001). But he'd salvage his political future, which you have to believe is important to him (no matter what his buddies say). ... Which will it be: his money or his career? ... He's thinking! ... P.S.: Why isn't Raines' overpaid predecessor, former Mondale campaign manager Jim Johnson, catching more of the shame for the Fannie Mae scandal? According to Albert Crenshaw, Johnson was apparently still formally running Fannie Mae when at least one of its questionable moves--failing to take $200 million in losses--took place:

An Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight report in September accused the company of improperly deferring $200 million of estimated expenses in 1998, which allowed management to receive full annual bonuses. Had the expenses been recorded that year, no bonuses would have been paid, the report said.

Fannie Mae reported paying bonuses in 1998 to Johnson, who received $1.932 million; Raines, who then was chairman-designate, $1.11 million ..... [Emph. added]

Even after Johnson stepped down as chairman at the end of 1998, he apparently remained the head of Fannie Mae's Executive Committee. Isn't he accountable? ... It's not as if Johnson is no longer important--a few months ago he was runnng John Kerry's vice-presidential selection operation. Yet, according to NEXIS, Johnson's name hasn't been mentioned in the N.Y. Time'scoverage of the mounting Fannie Mae controversy since October 6. ... P.P.S.: Johnson specialized in attempting to protect Fannie Mae's government-subsidy racket by "buying off potential critics with well-publicized good works," including cosponsoring a concert series with the Washington Post, according to this eerily prescient Chatterbox column. ... For an excellent Matt Cooper article that Johnson called "unbelievable trash," click here. ... [You went out of your way to mention those WaPo concerts because the Post is buying Slate.--ed Why, yes. But the Post has also done a much better job bringing Johnson into the story than the NYT, and has historically been quite tough on Fannie Mae (especially by running a big David Vise series in 1995).] 12:51 A.M. link

Polipundit embarrasses CBS (if that's even possible at this point). He also offers a disappointingly abbreviated Year in Cocooning. (No Ruy?) Update:kf gets results! P.S.:Polipundit explains that Teixeira was "an all-too easy target," invoking a principle kf does not recognize. "First, shoot the fish in the barrel" is the motto around here. ... 10:19 P.M.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

R.U.R.--A.S.A.P.: Some people seem to think this video is funny. I say scary. Imagine 100 of them coming at you. 11:22 P.M.

Now you can help Mark Geragos find the real killer of Laci Peterson! PayPal accepted! ...[thanks to reader J.H.] 11:48 A.M.

Eduwonk, who persists in making education policy entertaining, is all over those recently-publicized studies that either show or don't show charter schools failing to beat public schools. ... 3:30 A.M.  

Alert reader M.O. notes that I recently used the phrase "a frisson of schadenfreude." ... [Classy!-ed.2:14 A.M.

Andrew Sullivan goes on vacation and his blog gets better! ... This is why kf always at least pretends to be on the job. 2:09 A.M.

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