Why did Freddie Mac have to hire more lobbyists post-Gingrich?

Why did Freddie Mac need more lobbyists after Gingrich departed?

 

Newt Gingrich’s 2006 contract with Freddie Mac offers little direct information. The contract runs 15 pages. Services to be provided by Gingrich appear in “Exhibit 2.”

Here is the text from the page headed “Exhibit 2,” in its entirety:

Exhibit 2

“Consultant will provide consulting and related services as requested by Freddie Mac’s Director, Public Policy in exchange for which Freddie Mac will pay Consultant $25,000 per each full calendar month during which Consultant provides Services.”

 

The $25K-a-month question, of course, is what Gingrich did for Freddie Mac, and in particular whether his “consulting and related services” included lobbying. Gingrich has denied being a lobbyist. In Monday night’s GOP debate in Tampa he said he has “never” done any lobbying, repeating the “never.”

Tampa debate stage

When direct information on such questions is limited, one must find indirect information. Lobbying Disclosure, U.S. Clerk’s office, House of Representatives, confirms indirectly that the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) needed a bunch more lobbyists after it no longer had Gingrich Group as a consultancy.

Short chronology: The Gingrich Group worked for Freddie Mac from 1999 into 2007. The original contract from 1999, renewed through 2002, reportedly cannot be found, although one would think congressional investigation of Freddie and Fannie would turn it up. (Where is Issa when we really need him?) The now available Gingrich Group contract was signed in 2006 and reportedly was renewed in 2007.

Searching the U.S. House Disclosure site for registered lobbyists and their clients does not turn up the name Gingrich or the names of Gingrich’s companies.

Not much new there.

However, checking the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation as a lobbying client yields a few hard numbers.

  • Freddie Mac filed client forms on its lobbying 81 times from 2004 to 2008, only once in 2004, most often in 2008
  • Freddie Mac filings increased in 2007 to 19, only mid-year and year-end
  • Freddie Mac filings increased in 2008 to 30, all quarters, with more individual lobbyists—new and former*

Thus for what it’s worth, Freddie needed significantly more lobbyists and more lobbying activity from some point in 2007. Freddie Mac had one lobbyist registered in 2004. In 2005, 2006 and 2007 it had respectively 8, 10 and 9 lobbyists. In 2008 it had 12 lobbyists, filing quarterly reports, which is a lot of activity.

As mentioned above, the 2007 filings for individual lobbyists for Freddie Mac are only for mid-year and year-end. It might be illuminating to know exactly when in 2007 Gingrich Group stopped working for Freddie Mac. The question, emailed to Gingrich’s campaign, has not yet been answered.

While I await response

The arguments here are obvious. Freddie Mac was in hot water getting hotter, and had a track record of poor document handling and of hiring more high-paid hired guns to get it out of trouble. So its growing contingent of lobbyists is explainable without reference to Gingrich.

On the other hand, it looks as though a gap opened up when the Gingrich Group and Freddie Mac parted ways. If the gap could be filled only by lobbyists, then Gingrich looks like a lobbyist.

 

This, be it noted, is the overwhelming probability anyway.

She said it too

 

Another search can be done on the lobbyist disclosure site, though only back to 2008. One can look up entities in the database by “Contribution.” Checking Freddie Mac in the Lobbying Contributions Search yields 22 filings for 2008: Again, significant activity. Nine individual lobbyists contributed services to Freddie Mac in 2008, some of the same names as on the other lobbying filings, plus a few additional.** Again, it looks as though Freddie Mac needed some extra lobbying in 2008.

Regrettably, we do not have documentation on lobbying ‘contributions’ before 2008. Regrettably also, the only Gingrich contract available is for 2006.

As with so many scandals, the superficial political scandal–Gingrich’s prevaricating–is dwarfed by the open scandal that a taxpayer-supported entity was hiring lobbyists in the first place. Fortunately, Freddie Mac filings for 2009, 2010, and 2012 are zero. Following its well-publicized difficulties, it was prohibited from lobbying, thus roping off one well-heeled potential client from the white-collar goon squads in Washington. Thus far one waits in vain for GOP debaters to mention this improvement.

None of the above should be construed as saying that Freddie Mac hired more lobbyists than did other megaliths. For comparison/perspective, Verizon company has 1,334 filings under Lobbying Disclosure going back to 2005.

One firm Verizon hired for lobbying is Wiley Rein & Fielding, the firm Gingrich hired to represent him during his unfortunate congressional ethics investigation. Gingrich has since heartily dissed Wiley Rein, faulting the firm’s work in his case.

Baran, Wiley Rein attorney for Gingrich

2006 was the year of most filings for Wiley Rein. Wiley Rein & Fielding is a bigtime lobbying firm every year, but 2006 was especially active. The lobbying database shows 912 filings for Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP:

118 in 2007

153 in 2008

164 in 2009

146 in 2010

148 in 2011

(183 in 2006)

 

btw Freddie Mac obligations can be used as collateral in Florida. Romney’s Freddie Mac-oriented attacks on Gingrich might not play in Florida, after all.

 

*2004 names, Freddie Mac lobbyists: Clarke Camper

2005 names: Rhod Shaw, Doyle Bartlett, Dwight Fettig, James E. Boland, Sarah Dumont, Richard Roberts, Lendell W. Porterfield, Chris Fox (8)

2006 names: Shaw, Boland, Bartlett, Timothy McBride, Fettig, Lawrence Romans, Andrew Lowenthal, Roberts, Dumont, Stephanie Silverman (10)

2007 names: Shaw, Boland, Bartlett, Fettig, Romans, Richard Roberts, Lowenthal, Dumont, Silverman (9)

2008 names: Virgil Griffin, Richard Tarplin, Jack S. Deuser, James E. Smith, Anne Urban, Shaw, Fettig, Romans, Bartlett, Boland, Porterfield, Roberts (12)

 

**Names: Robert Zimmer, Virgil Griffin, Kirsten Johnson-Obey (filed amended form 2009), Timothy McBride, David Lynch, Christopher Young, Brian Smith, Regina Shaw, Lisa Ledbetter (9)

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