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Hamsher, Norquist Team Up To Call For Resignation Of Rahm Emanuel

You may have read about this at the mothership, but Jane Hamsher and Grover Norquist are teaming up as an unusual coalition, writing a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for an investigation into the activities of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel while on the board of Freddie Mac in 2000 and 2001, and for Emanuel to resign.

The matter of Emanuel’s work at Freddie Mac has been documented in the media. He spent one year on the board of the quasi-governmental agency and pocketed $320,000. The Chicago Tribune alleges that Emanuel’s time on the board coincided with a major accounting scandal at the agency, and that he did little or nothing to stop it. There were also political scandals:

During (Emanuel’s) brief time on the board, the company hatched a plan to enhance its political muscle. That scheme, also reviewed by the board, led to a record $3.8 million fine from the Federal Election Commission for illegally using corporate resources to host fundraisers for politicians. Emanuel was the beneficiary of one of those parties after he left the board and ran in 2002 for a seat in Congress from the North Side of Chicago.

Hamsher and Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, allege that the White House has blocked an investigation into Emanuel’s time on the Freddie Mac board, in an effort to run out the clock on the statute of limitations, which expires in 2011. Currently, there is no Inspector General overseeing the mortgage giant. Hamsher and Norquist note that the White House blocked a Freedom of Information Act request into Emanuel’s activities after he was named Chief of Staff.

The charges are serious, but many will doubtless be taken aback by the ideological differences among the two who penned the request.

The letter is below.

Dear Attorney General Holder,

We write to demand an immediate investigation into the activities of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. We believe there is an abundant public record which establishes that the actions of the White House have blocked any investigation into his activities while on the board of Freddie Mac from 2000-2001, and facilitated the coverup of potentially criminal actions until the 10 year statute of limitations has run out.

The purpose of this letter is to connect the dots to establish both the conduct of Mr. Emanuel and those working with him to thwart inquiry, and to aid you to act speedily so that the statute of limitations does not run out before the Justice Department is able to empanel a grand jury.

The New York Times reports that the administration is negotiating to double the commitments to Fannie and Freddie for a total of $800 billion by December 31, in order to avoid the congressional approval which would be needed after that date. But there currently is no Inspector General exercising independent oversight over these entities. Acting Inspector General Ed Kelly was stripped of his authority earlier this year by the Justice Department, relying on a loophole in a bill Mr. Emanuel cosponsored and pushed through Congress shortly before he left for the White House. This effectively ended Mr. Kelly’s investigation into what happened at Fannie and Freddie.

Since that time, despite multiple warnings by Congress that having no independent Inspector General for a federal agency that oversees five and a half trillion dollars in mortgages is a serious oversight, the White House has not appointed one.

We recognize that these are extremely serious accusations, but the stonewalling by Mr. Emanuel and the White House has left us with no other redress. A 2003 report by Freddie Mac’s regulator indicated that Freddie Mac executives had informed the board of their intention to misstate the earnings to insure their own bonuses during the time Mr. Emanuel was a director. But the White House refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request from the Chicago Tribune for those board minutes on the grounds that Freddie Mac was a “commercial” entity, even though it was wholly owned by the government at the time the request was made.

If the Treasury approves the $800 billion commitment to Fannie and Freddie by the end of the year, it will mean that under the influence of Rahm Emanuel, the White House is moving hundreds of billions of dollars into companies with a legacy of executive corruption with no oversight in place. This will allow Fannie and Freddie to continue to purchase more toxic assets from banks, acting as a back-door increase of the TARP without congressional approval.

Before the White House commits any more money to Fannie and Freddie, we call on the Office of Public Integrity in the Justice Department to begin an investigation into the cause Fannie and Freddie’s conservatorship, into Rahm Emanuel’s activities on the board of Freddie Mac (including any violations of his fiduciary duties to shareholders), into the decision making behind the vacancy of Fannie and Freddie’s Inspector General, and into potential public corruption by Rahm Emanuel in connection with his time in Congress, in the White House and on the board of Freddie Mac.

We also call for the immediate appointment of an Inspector General with a complete remit to go after this information.

The two of us come from differing political ideologies. One of us is the conservative head of a taxpayer foundation, and the other is the publisher of a liberal political blog. But we make common cause today out of grave concern for the future of our country in the continued wake of corruption-riddled bailouts which rob Main Street to benefit Wall Street, and demand the resignation of Mr. Emanuel who has steadfastly worked to obstruct both oversight and inquiry into the matter. His conflicts of interest render him far too compromised to serve as gatekeeper to the President of the United States.

We will lay out the details further below, and are available at your earliest convenience to meet with you directly.

Jane Hamsher Grover Norquist Americans for Tax Reform

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David Dayen

David Dayen