Fannie and Freddie Ready To Drown Their Sorrows
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac plan to let loose and forget about their troubles at this summer's Democratic and Republican national conventions, while plying their congressional critics with champagne and hors d'oeuvres.
While congress considers a taxpayer-funded rescue plan, the twin mortgage giants are planning to host receptions in Denver, where Democrats will hold their convention beginning Aug. 28, and in Minneapolis-St. Paul, where Republicans will gather a week later.
"Building stable communities for America's future," reads the invitation to join Fannie and Freddie for a "housing industry open house reception" at the posh Graves Hotel in Minneapolis, which is listed as one of the "gold list reserve top hotels in the world" by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. "More than 400 expected to attend," the invitation promises. (The planned parties are especially ironic given that both the Denver and Minneapolis metropolitan areas have been plagued with record numbers of foreclosures.)
Word of the Fannie-Freddie party isn't going over so well with conservatives on Capitol Hill, who are rebelling against a proposed bailout for the two government-sponsored enterprises.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), one of the toughest and most vocal critics of the proposed rescue plan, doesn't sound too enthusiastic about attending the housing industry bash in Minneapolis.
"Fannie and Freddie should focus on opening the doors to home-ownership, not the doors to swanky lobbyist parties with politicians," says DeMint's spokesman Wesley Denton. "If Americans are being forced to bail them out, they should learn to buy drinks on their own dime, not the taxpayers'."
DeMint said Thursday that "if American taxpayers are forced to [bail out] Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, their lobbying and political activities should stop."
But the housing industry party in Minneapolis is one big lobbying cabal. Fannie and Freddie are co-hosting the party with the National Association of Home Builders, the Independent Community Bankers of America and the National Association of Realtors.
A Fannie Mae spokeswoman told us late Thursday afternoon that since it was "after five" she wouldn't be able to provide comment on whether the mortgage lender will still throw its receptions at the conventions. We hope to get a response today -- before cocktail hour begins, of course.
Mary Ann Akers
July 18, 2008; 10:40 AM ET
Categories: Party Time '08
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