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: