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Jim Johnson

In June 2008, Barack Obama appointed Jim Johnson to co-chair his vice presidential search committee. Johnson, who formerly had served as an advisor for Democrat presidential nominees Walter Mondale (1984) and John Kerry (2004), was the CEO of the government-backed mortgage lender, Fannie Mae, in the mid-1990s. During that same period, he also headed the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Brookings Institution. Columnist Michelle Malkin explains the significance of Obama’s relationship with Johnson:

“Johnson [when he was with Fannie Mae] accepted more than $7 million in below-market-rate loans from scandal-plagued subprime lender Countrywide Financial Corp. The company’s CEO, Angelo Mozilo, had set up a very special loan program [offering rates below the market average] for his high-powered pals [Johnson and friends]. Johnson had named Mozilo to Fannie Mae’s national advisory committee more than a decade ago and they maintained a cozy friendship. Mozilo also happens to be one of Obama’s fattest targets in his frequent broadsides against the demons of the mortgage industry. Obama likened Mozilo to a virus in March [2008]: ‘These are the people who are responsible for infecting the economy and helping to create a home foreclosure crisis…. These executives crossed the line to boost their bottom line.’ During the [Democratic primary] battle with Hillary, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe was dispatched to the cable TV airwaves to inveigh: ‘If we’re really going to crack down on the practices that caused the credit and housing crises, we’re going to need a leader who doesn’t owe these industries any favors.’”
As a result of Johnson’s involvement in the foregoing controversy, he resigned from his position on Obama’s VP search committee on June 11, 2008.

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