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Nobody says he's dumb, but everyone says he's an asshole.

"this time, it's for a friend"

rooting out waste and corruption in Chicago would be easier if we elected a mayor who wasn't rooted in waste and corruption

Posted by teasel 02/17/2011 at 09:43AM

21 minutes into the WTTW Valentine’s debate, Carol Marin asked Rahm Emanuel about his service at Freddie Mac, and he answered the question he wished she’d asked:

MARIN: Mr. Emanuel, in a recent debate you never answered a question about whether you earned $320,000 to attend six meetings a year on the scandal ridden mortgage giant Freddie Mac, where, on your watch, the ground work was laid for the greatest housing crisis since the great depression. Would you agree that you and your colleagues on that board were asleep at the switch? But, first of all, did you earn it?

EMANUEL: I was paid like every other board member.

The question was “did you earn it,” not “were you paid like other board members.” Did any board member earn it? Did the other board members get campaign contributions too?

Rahm continued:

EMANUEL: I was appointed to that position because I was Vice Chair of the Chicago Housing Authority, and President Clinton wanted somebody with public housing and mixed income housing background. In addition to that point, I was there in 1999 and 2000, the housing crisis is in 2007 and 2008. As you well know, Ben Bernanke, as well as Alan Greenspan, the entire Treasury Department, as well as the entire fed, nobody predicted in 2000 a housing crisis in 2008. The only person who probably believes that I could have seen ahead is my mother. Eight years ahead of time, not possible.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Rahm served on the board from February 2000 through May 2001, not from 1999 to 2000. It was during his actual time on the board that Freddie Mac was misreporting its earnings to mislead investors, the same board that ignored warnings about the accounting scandal from regulators that resulted in $50 million in fines for Freddie Mac. It was immediately upon his leaving the board to run for Rod Blagojevich’s congressional seat that Freddie Mac illegally donated $25,000 to Emanuel’s campaign, his third largest contributor. That contribution was part of a plan hatched during Emanuel’s time on the board to influence the House Financial Services Committee that oversaw Freddie Mac, coincidentally the first committee Rahm was appointed to.

To be fair, the Obama administration is blocking FOIA requests so we don’t actually know if Rahm ever showed up at the switch to sleep at it. For all we know he may have missed the meetings he was paid $320,000 to attend, much like taxpayers paid him not to attend the committee hearings on Freddie and Fannie because he recused himself over the conflict of interest he created when he accepted those illegal campaign contributions.

Rahm tells us he was appointed by President Clinton to serve on Freddie Mac’s board because he had been appointed by Mayor Richard Daley to serve as vice-chair of the CHA. That’s two appointments from public officials for whom Rahm raised millions of dollars ($7M for Dick’s first mayoral bid in 1989, $70M for Bill in 1992), and he’s somehow got the nuts to complain about revolving doors during this election. The number of revolving doors he’s been through makes your head spin.

He wants us to believe the appointments were based on merit and experience, but somehow he doesn’t know enough about campaign finance law after financing campaigns for over a decade to know that the campaign contributions organized by the organization he served on the board of were illegal. Asleep at the switch? He’s narcoleptic around switches.

Rahm’s role in overseeing housing finance didn’t end when he left the CHA or when he left Freddie Mac. During his first term in congress he served on the House Financial Services Committee - a detail he neglects on his campaign website - where he oversaw federal regulation of the securities, insurance, banking, and housing industries. Nobody may have seen the housing crisis coming in 2000 when the groundwork was still being laid for the bubble, but well before 2003 the alarm bells were ringing and Rahm was asleep at an even bigger switch.

Forbes questioned the “wild appreciation” in the housing market all the way back in September, 2001. UCLA economist Ed Learner warned about the bubble in June 2002. Economist Dean Baker raised the same warning two months later. Economists Karl Case and Robert Shiller - who invented the Case-Schiller Home Price Index - published their warning about the housing bubble shortly after Rahm took his seat on the Finance Committee. Less than a year later Chicago’s own Northern Trust, among many others, was predicting disaster. Rahm is using the “nobody could have predicted” excuse, but plenty of people got it right. Greenspan and Bernanke were just famously wrong, and at least one of them had the decency to be embarassed by the error.

Rahmblo says he’s serious about education reform, but here he is trying to rig the curve by ignoring the people who got the answer right.

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