Touting report on Clinton aide's connection to subprime lender, Fox News ignored report on McCain's aides' lobbying for "notorious lender"

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

On Fox News' The Live Desk, Martha MacCallum, discussing with correspondent Major Garrett a report about Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Maggie Williams, stated that Williams "sat on the board of one of the nation's once-largest and now bankrupt mortgage lenders, Delta Financial." However, neither Garrett nor MacCallum mentioned Sen. John McCain's reported ties to the mortgage industry.

On the March 31 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk, which airs at 1 p.m. ET, anchor Martha MacCallum asserted, "Hillary Clinton often criticizes the subprime lenders who have left millions of Americans scrambling to hold onto their homes. But all the while, her campaign manager, Maggie Williams -- this story broke yesterday, I believe -- she sat on the board of one of the nation's once-largest and now bankrupt mortgage lenders, Delta Financial." MacCallum then introduced Fox News correspondent Major Garrett, who asserted, "What's also important is that the -- one of the things that Delta Financial Corporation did to make sure it was at least semi-profitable for a while before it went bankrupt, was to charge lenders -- or charge, rather, mortgagees -- more if they prepay their home mortgage." Garrett added, "[T]hat is something that Hillary Clinton has identified as a rather negative aspect of this mortgage crisis. Something she said should never occur and that she would attempt to ban. So this company that Maggie Williams was sitting on the board of directors of was doing the very same thing that Hillary Clinton says is at the heart -- or at least one of the contributing causes -- to the mortgage crisis." On March 29, Newsday reported that Williams "earned about $200,000 on the board of a Long Island subprime lender that charged prepayment penalties -- a practice that Clinton, a critic of the subprime industry, now seeks to eliminate." However, in touting the report about Williams, neither Garrett nor MacCallum mentioned Sen. John McCain's reported ties to the mortgage industry.

On March 31, the New York Daily News reported that "two of [McCain's] top advisers were recently lobbyists for a notorious lender in the mortgage meltdown." The online version of the article lists 4 a.m. as its time of publication. The Daily News reported:

When Sen. John McCain addressed the nation's burgeoning mortgage mess last week, he insisted it was time for a little "straight talk."

"I will not play election-year politics with the housing crisis," the GOP presidential hopeful insisted while unveiling his plan, which many have since described as friendlier to the mortgage industry than the Democrats' proposals.

What McCain did not say -- which some believe smacks of politics -- is that two of his top advisers were recently lobbyists for a notorious lender in the mortgage meltdown.

John Green, the senator's chief liaison to Congress, and Wayne Berman, his national finance co-chairman, billed more than $720,000 in lobbying fees from 2005 through last year to Ameriquest Mortgage through their lobbying firm, disclosure forms reviewed by the Daily News show.

Ameriquest, which since has been bought out, was forced to settle suits with 49 states for $325 million. More than 13,680 New York homeowners got taken for a ride by the company, records show.

From the March 31 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk:

CLINTON [video clip]: You know, a hedge fund doesn't have people who can go out to talk to home buyers. They'd have to put that together.

MacCALLUM: All right, Hillary Clinton often criticizes the subprime lenders who have left millions of Americans scrambling to hold onto their homes. But all the while, her campaign manager, Maggie Williams -- this story broke yesterday, I believe -- she sat on the board of one of the nation's once-largest and now bankrupt mortgage lenders, Delta Financial. The Clinton camp had this to say in response today: "No one in this race has done more than Hillary Clinton to address the foreclosure crisis in America. She has a bold plan that would help homeowners by freezing rates and foreclosures for subprime borrowers." Fox's Major Garrett has been covering this story. Major, how big a deal is this for Hillary Clinton and the campaign?

GARRETT: Well, that's interesting, you know, Martha. It would be a bigger deal if Barack Obama were drawing attention to it. So far, he has chosen not to for reasons known only to he and his campaign staff. One thing that is important to point out about this is that Maggie Williams took over the Clinton campaign in February when the Clinton campaign was in very dire straits. Now what she says it that she did not inform Senator Clinton first of all of her sitting on the board of directors for Delta Financial Corporation, which is based in Woodbury, New York. It went bankrupt in December. So Maggie Williams no longer has an active role in that financial corporation.

What's also important is that the -- one of the things that Delta Financial Corporation did to make sure it was at least semi-profitable for a while before it went bankrupt, was to charge lenders -- or charge, rather, mortgagees -- more if they prepay their home mortgage. Now, that is something that Hillary Clinton has identified as a rather negative aspect of this mortgage crisis. Something she said should never occur and that she would attempt to ban. So this company that Maggie Williams was sitting on the board of directors of was doing the very same thing that Hillary Clinton says is at the heart -- or at least one of the contributing causes -- to the mortgage crisis.

MacCALLUM: All right, we don't know how deep her involvement was on that board. People's involvements on boards, you know, are all over the map in terms of the involvement in what's going on in the company. Major, thanks for that.

Posted In
Economy, Housing, Elections
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Martha MacCallum
Show/Publication
The Live Desk
Stories/Interests
John McCain, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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