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Rahm's Freddie Mac Payday Enflames Right Wing Bloggers

The right wing blogosphere erupted today over charges that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel profited greatly while doing little as a board member at government-bailout recipient Freddie Mac.

It's hardly a revelation that Emanuel was well compensated for his time at the mortgage giant; he's been fielding criticism about his tenure there since he was nominated to serve as President Obama's gatekeeper. But an article in today's Chicago Tribune goes farther than most, painting a portrait of a laissez faire/Washington insider culture that prevailed in Freddie's board room during boom times. The article spotlights what it casts as the failure of Emanuel and other board members to question the risky ventures that brought the company to the brink of collapse.

Emanuel was appointed to Freddie's board in 2000 by President Bill Clinton, for whom he had worked as White House political director. It was a highly lucrative appointment for the veteran political hand, netting him at least $320,000 for 14 months of work.

What exactly he did to justify that windfall remains a source of controversy. Emanuel only attended a handful of meetings and did not serve on any of the board's working committees, the Tribune reports. His greatest value was his extensive political experience, a particularly important attribute at a time when Freddie was facing threats of greater congressional regulation, according to Tribune reporters Bob Secter and Andrew Zajac.

The article has become a hot topic on the Internet, moving up the ranks of the Drudge Report and becoming a talking point for conservative commentators.

In addition to claims that Emanuel's stint at Freddie was uninspired, bloggers on the right were excised that during the chief of staff's time at the company, the board was reportedly briefed by executives on a plan to exploit accounting methods to mislead shareholders about the company's profitability. This scheme pushed earnings onto the books well into the future, making the company look like it would be making money for years down the road, according to the article.

Here's a sample of the reaction among conservative bloggers:

  • "So, when's the ACORN/MSM-chartered bus to Rahm's (illegal) apartment departing to protest his ill-gotten gains?" wrote blogger Michelle Malkin.
  • "I wonder if Congress will be passing any unconstitutional bills of attainder to confiscate Rahm 'Dead Fish' Emanuel's ill-gotten wealth," opined Van Helsing at the Right Wing News.
  • "Doesn't it make you feel good that one of the people aiding in this attempt at establishing vast regulatory power–and one of the people placed in the role of regulator in the event that this legislation passes–will be none other than Rahm Emanuel?" Pejman Yousefzadeh wrote at The New Ledger. "And make no mistake, he will be placed in that role, as the White House Chief of Staff. Paradoxically, the only hope we have that Emanuel will not be involved is if he reprises his do-nothing, see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil role from his days as a member of the Freddie Mac board."
  • "Too many of the people in Congress who vented outrage over retention bonuses not only approved of the Ponzi schemes at the GSEs, they colluded in creating them," offered Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. "Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, et al have little room to castigate Rahm Emanuel for merely enacting what they created. And that, of course, is the root of the hypocrisy."
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