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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Campbell Brown Rips McCain Camp's "Sexist" Treatment Of Palin

A prominent female news anchor chastised the McCain campaign Tuesday evening for engaging in sexism and insulting behavior in its attempt to shield Gov. Sarah Palin from members of the press.

In a fiery commentary, Campbell Brown laid into John McCain for casting a "chauvinistic chain" that ran over his running mate. Punctuated by a call to "Free Sarah Palin," the CNN anchor highlighted the attempt Tuesday by the McCain campaign to ban editorial reporters from covering Palin's visit with world leaders at the UN, as yet another gender-demeaning move in a campaign highlighted by sexist behavior.

"Tonight I call on the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower that will wilt at any moment," said Brown. "This woman is from Alaska for crying out loud. She is strong. She is tough. She is confident. And you claim she is ready to be one heart beat away form the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now. Allow her to show her stuff. Allow her to face down those pesky reporters... Let her have a real news conference with real questions. By treating Sarah Palin different from the other candidates in this race, you are not showing her the respect she deserves. Free Sarah Palin. Free her from the chauvinistic chain you are binding her with. Sexism in this campaign must come to an end. Sarah Palin has just as much a right to be a real candidate in this race as the men do. So let her act like one."

This is, it seems, one of the strongest backlashes to the war that McCain and his aides have waged with the press. Critical articles the campaign can handle - easily chalked up to a "liberal media bias". And the lack of an organ to get out its message is really not a problem when media outlets are still covering the candidate's every move (though today, a near boycott occurred during Palin's trip to the UN). But charges that the campaign is insulting women voters by shielding its vice presidential nominee from the press are powerful and persuasive, especially when they come from a well-known female news anchor. Palin, it should be noted, will be taking questions from CBS's Katie Couric on Wednesday.

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John McCain: The Fundamental Deregulator (VIDEO)

Over the last few days, John McCain has talked a decent game when it comes to enacting new regulations to protect American families from another financial crisis. But as this new video demonstrates, McCain's talk is just hot air -- he's got no record to back it up.

Last March, he famously said that he was "fundamentally a deregulator." In July, he said that his "fundamental difference" with Barack Obama was that Obama favored "more regulation" while he favored less. And earlier this month, McCain's strong support for deregulation was on display in speech after speech at the GOP convention.

Now, John McCain is scrambling to follow Barack Obama's lead as a reform-minded proponent of regulation. But that can't change the fact that when it comes to his record, all the way up until Thursday of last week, John McCain is "The Fundamental Deregulator" -- and YouTube is here to prove it:

Video edited by Jed Lewison for The Huffington Post.

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McCain Aides Earned Nearly $2.4 Million From Foreign Car Manufacturers

Early on Tuesday, Barack Obama's presidential campaign launched an ad in Michigan pointing out that, despite assurances that he only purchased domestic, three of John McCain's 13 cars were foreign-made.

The spot was designed to paint McCain as both removed from his straight-talking reputation and not a true champion of the domestic auto industry.

If that is the case, however, the Obama campaign left a far more effective salvo lying on the table. Not only does McCain buy foreign. Several high-ranking members of his campaign and fundraising team have earned nearly $2.4 million lobbying on behalf of foreign auto manufacturers.

According to the non-partisan Campaign Money Watch, John Green, McCain's congressional liaison, earned $130,000 to lobby on behalf of the Association of International Car Manufacturers in 2007 and 2008. Susan Nelson, the Senator's finance director, made $460,000 lobbying for Toyota from 2005 to 2007. Tom Loeffler, the campaign's former finance chair (and McCain bundler) made $660,000 lobbying for Toyota during that same time period. While Josephine Cooper and David Vennett -- each fundraisers for the campaign -- have both worked as Toyota's in-house lobbyists since 2004.

Meanwhile, Kristen Gullot, who fundraises for McCain and serves on his steering committee of women, made $840,000 lobbying for Toyota from 2005 through 2008. And
Susan Molinari, another member of the steering committee of women for McCain, made $300,000 lobbying for Hyundai in 2001 and 2002.

"When John McCain tells Michigan voters that their jobs aren't coming back, he's apparently speaking with inside information," said David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch. "He is receiving fundraising help and advice from a half dozen lobbyists who have also made millions working for foreign car manufacturers."

All of the entities that these advisers and aides lobbied for were U.S. subsidiaries of foreign manufacturers. And both of these companies have thousands of American-based employees. In all likelihood, McCain's cars were built in the United States and not overseas. But domestic car companies, and the workers they employ, are naturally skittish of the foreign competition. And as the Obama campaign signaled this morning, they will take advantage of any potential to shift votes in Michigan. As such, it would not be a huge surprise to see the Illinois Democrat point out the lobbyist connections that McCain has to these foreign producers.

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Palin Spread Lies About Mayoral Opponent's Religion And Marriage

Before Sarah Palin decided to run for the Wasilla mayor's office in 1996 against incumbent John Stein, the Palins and Steins were friends. John Stein had helped launch Palin's political career, mentoring the hockey mom during her 1994 run for City Council, along with veteran council member Nick Carney. Stein's wife, Karen Marie, went to aerobics classes with Palin.

But when she announced her candidacy for Stein's seat, vowing to overturn the city's "old boy" establishment, a different Sarah Palin emerged. "Things got very ugly," recalled Naomi Tigner, a friend of the Steins. "Sarah became very mean-spirited."

Even though Palin knew that Stein is a Protestant Christian, from a Pennsylvania Dutch background, her campaign began circulating the word that she would be "Wasilla's first Christian mayor." ...

The Palin campaign also started another vicious whisper campaign, spreading the word that Stein and his wife -- who had chosen to keep her own last name when they were married -- were not legally wed. Again, Palin knew the truth, Stein said, but chose to muddy the waters. "We actually had to produce our marriage certificate," recalled Stein, whose wife died of breast cancer in 2005 without ever reconciling with Palin.

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Bush Administration will keep secret 'grim' Afghanistan report quiet until after election

A secret US intelligence report which says the political and military situation in Afghanistan is "grim" will be withheld from the public until after the election, a new report says.

Intelligence officials are finishing up the National Intelligence Estimate on Aghanistan, according to ABC's Brian Ross, "but there are 'no plans to declassify' any of it before the election," an official said.

Keeping the intelligence report under wraps would likely help Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). McCain has focused on what he sees as the success of the Iraq "surge," in which the US added troops to lessen violence. Attention to problems in Afghanistan would put the spotlight on President Bush's failures, which might rub off on the Republican presidential nominee.

"According to people who have been briefed, the NIE will paint a 'grim' picture of the situation in Afghanistan, seven years after the US invaded in an effort to dismantle the al Qaeda network and its Taliban protectors," Ross writes.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen told Congress last week the US is struggling to retain control.

"I'm not convinced we're winning it in Afghanistan," he said, adding, "we're running out of time."

"Absent a broader international and interagency approach to the problems there, it is my professional opinion that no amount of troops in no amount of time can ever achieve all the objectives we seek in Afghanistan," he said.

This aligns with the opinions of commanders on the ground. According to a report in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, the US military expects the Taliban to launch a "winter offensive," which would mean a spike in violence in an area that has, at least for the recent past, been more quiet.

"I do think there will be an increase in violence by the enemy in order to maintain a general sense of insecurity," Brig. Gen. Mark Milley, deputy commander of the U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, told the paper. "The winter fighting season this year will be more violent than in previous years."

A spokesperson for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Vanee Vines, told Ross "it is not the [National Intelligence Director]'s policy to publicly comment on national intelligence products that may or may not be in production."

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell has said that he doesn't believe intelligence estimates should be made public, though several have recently been released, including one that detailed the US intelligence community's position on Iran's nuclear program.

The National Intelligence Estimate reflects the consensus view of 17 government agencies.

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Davis' Firm on Freddie Payroll

By Tory Newmyer
Roll Call Staff

The lobbying firm of Rick Davis, Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) campaign manager, remains on the payroll of mortgage giant Freddie Mac, according to two sources with knowledge of the arrangement.

The firm, Davis Manafort, has collected $15,000 a month from the organization since late 2005, when Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae dissolved a five-year-old advocacy group that Davis earned nearly $2 million leading, the sources said.

The relationship is coming to an end, however, as Fannie and Freddie’s new federal caretaker zeroes out its contracts with political consultants.

“All lobbying activity has stopped, and all political consulting contracts at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in the process of being terminated,” said Stefanie Mullin, a spokeswoman for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which assumed control of the troubled mortgage giants earlier this month.

The news comes in the wake of a Monday report in the New York Times detailing Davis’ work for the mortgage companies that sparked an aggressive response from the McCain campaign. That report suggested that Davis Manafort ended its work for the companies once they decided to shutter the advocacy group, called the Homeownership Alliance.

Fannie Mae terminated its relationship with the firm after the Homeownership Alliance disbanded, company spokeswoman Amy Bonitatibus said.

Davis Manafort has remained on Freddie Mac’s payroll, however, although it is not clear what work Davis Manafort has performed in order to earn its paycheck.

Sharon McHale, a Freddie spokeswoman, declined to comment, citing the company’s policy of not discussing its relationships with vendors. Officials with the firm and the McCain campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

“I never saw that Rick was asked to ever do anything. And certainly after the Homeownership Alliance faded away, there was no indication of any real action on his part,” one source familiar with the deal said.

Davis still owns a partial stake in the lobbying shop, but the McCain campaign has repeatedly said he no longer receives income from it. Asked in a Sunday interview with the Times and CNBC about Davis’ work for the mortgage companies, McCain said it had ended. “And my campaign manager has stopped that, has had nothing to do with it since, and I’ll be glad to have his record examined by anybody who wants to look at it,” he said.

Both mortgage companies were forced to dissolve their muscular lobbying teams earlier this month under the terms of their federal takeover. Davis Manafort appears to have hung on a little longer because the firm never directly lobbied for the company, instead providing public affairs help.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac emerged as issues in the presidential race last week because of turmoil in the financial markets. In a radio address from Green Bay, Wis., on Saturday, McCain blamed the companies and their political clout for creating the housing mess now roiling Wall Street. “At the center of the problem were the lobbyists, politicians and bureaucrats who succeeded in persuading Congress and the administration to ignore the festering problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,’’ he said. “Using money and influence, they prevented reforms that would have curbed their power and limited their ability to damage our economy. And now, as ever, the American taxpayers are left to pay the price for Washington’s failure.’’

The McCain camp has attacked Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) for his ties to Fannie Mae, noting that the Democrat tapped former Fannie executive Jim Johnson to lead the search for his vice presidential nominee — until controversy over Johnson’s home loans forced him to quit. And the campaign has criticized Obama for receiving advice on housing issues from former Fannie chief Franklin Raines, a charge the Democrat’s campaign denies.

McCain’s inner circle has its own ties to the companies. Among the newest revelations: William Timmons, a lobbyist reportedly expected to lead McCain’s presidential transition team, has earned $260,000 this year lobbying for Freddie, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday.

The Times story on Monday detailed Davis’ turn as president of the alliance, a group that also included nonprofit organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Urban League but was reportedly bankrolled largely by the mortgage giants. At its helm, Davis helped advance the companies’ arguments promoting homeownership and discouraging stricter regulations. A former Fannie official said Davis did little for the paycheck and was hired because of his ties to McCain.

The report prompted an angry response from McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt, who accused the paper of being a “pro-Obama advocacy organization.”

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Playing hooky pays off for Palin


Sarah and Todd Palin

"During a recent special session called by Palin herself, she faced criticism from several legislators for not showing up personally to push for her agenda. Someone at the Capitol even printed up buttons asking, ‘Where’s Sarah?’”
Photo: AP

Despite all of the discussion of Sarah Palin’s performance as governor of Alaska, there has been little analysis of the simplest measure of performance: attendance. As Woody Allen said many years ago, “80 percent of success is just showing up.”

The Washington Post recently reported that, in her first 19 months as governor, Palin billed the state of Alaska per diem charges for 312 days she spent at her home in Wasilla. Palin’s staff has explained that it was appropriate to bill the state for expenses related to Palin staying in her own house because her “official duty station” was at the state capital of Juneau, where the governor’s official office and mansion are located. But that argument raises a different question: How much time did that leave for her to spend at her “official duty station”?

Nineteen months totals 578 days, but after subtracting weekends and holidays, it is only about 397 workdays. Assuming Palin did not routinely bill the state for staying in her own home on weekends and holidays, she would have spent no more than 85 workdays in the state capital over the course of her 19 months in office, even if she traveled nowhere else in Alaska or outside of the state. That compares with 168 days that the Alaska Legislature was in session during the same period.

One of the state’s leading papers, the Juneau Empire, described her attendance like this:

“Palin has spent little time in Juneau, rarely coming to the state capital except when the Legislature was in session, and sometimes not even then. During a recent special session called by Palin herself, she faced criticism from several legislators for not showing up personally to push for her agenda. Someone at the Capitol even printed up buttons asking, ‘Where’s Sarah?’”

Why does the governor of Alaska need to be in the state capital? There are two big reasons — and probably many smaller ones. The first big reason is that she appoints most of the people who manage the 15 departments of Alaska’s state government, containing more than 100 divisions and employing more than 50,000 people. Nearly all the department heads and division directors are headquartered in Juneau. E-mails and telephone calls alone are not effective for the governor to get advice, give directions and follow up to ensure that appropriate policy is being implemented. It is obvious that the ability to fully monitor the performance of the bureaucracies any governor has chosen to lead is greatly restricted if the governor does not spend significant time on the ground where the operations of government are housed.

But also of great importance is the governor’s ability to work with the legislature to update state policies and offer new programs for improving governance. Any effective governor must work on an ongoing basis with not only the leadership of both houses in the state legislature to build consensus and draft the governor’s proposals into language that both houses can accept, but also committee chairmen and recalcitrant members whose votes are needed to support key portions of the governor agenda.

It appears that in the upside-down situation that has occurred in Juneau over the past year and a half, almost all of the members of the Alaska Legislature were in the state capital far more often than the governor.

One member told the Juneau Empire, “At a time when [Palin’s] leadership was truly needed, we didn’t know where she was.”

One has to wonder whether the chef at the governor’s mansion that Palin takes credit for firing may not have simply left the job out of sheer boredom.

When I was first out of college, I worked for a period as a bill drafter for the Missouri Legislature. At that time, it was the practice for the governor to apportion thousands of state patronage jobs to members of the Legislature to pass on to their political supporters. Although some of these jobs paid little more than minimum wage, they were very much in demand because they were so-called no-show jobs: You could collect your paycheck without regularly reporting for work. Some individuals were able to obtain two or three such jobs and still work outside of state government as a real estate broker, bank employee or in some other private sector job.

Hopefully, Missouri’s and all state governments have fully abandoned such corrupt and wasteful practices. But every governor faces an ongoing challenge to ensure that each employee provides a full day of work for a full day of pay. That challenge is certainly greater if the governor is found infrequently at the “official duty station.” It is still greater if state employees realize the governor is being rewarded with state revenue for staying at home.

Scott Lilly is a senior fellow for the Center for American Progress Action Fund and former clerk and staff director of the House Appropriations Committee.

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Schmidt Jumps the Shark

Posted by Joe Klein

Ben Smith fact-checks the McCain campaign's ridiculous conference call assault on the press. But it should be remembered that Steve Schmidt is doing this for two (nefarious) reasons:

1. he's hoping to work the refs: if he complains enough about press bias, we mainstream sorts will cower, cringe and try to seek false equivalences between the two campaigns.

2. the more time we spend covering this nonsense, the less we'll spend on the real issues in this campaign.

Sorry, Steve. Not buying.

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Ken Burns criticizes McCain's vp pick

By Paul J. Gough

NEW YORK -- Count filmmaker Ken Burns as someone who isn't enamored of GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

The maker of "The Civil War" and "The War" didn't flinch from criticizing GOP presidential candidate John McCain and Palin when asked at a panel discussion Monday at Fordham University's law school.

"He (McCain) selected someone who is so supremely unqualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency and he has turned the selection process into a high school popularity contest and an 'American Idol' competition," Burns said. He said that McCain made a "cynical" pick in what he said was the most important decision of his presidential candidacy.

Burns, whose lifelong work is in American history, said that "in the whole history of the Republic there has been no one with as thin a credential" as Palin. He said it was, for McCain, a "Hail Mary pass" that will be decided in November.

Burns was being honored, along with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer and the late newsman Tim Russert, with lifetime achievement awards at Monday night's News and Documentary Emmy Awards. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, along with Fordham, sponsors a panel with the winners the morning before the ceremony.

Schieffer didn't take a stand like Burns did, but he did defend the mainstream media's coverage of Palin after she was named McCain's running mate.

"Sarah Palin is a 72-year-old heartbeat away from the presidency. The presidency is the most powerful office in the world," Schieffer said. "It seems to me that some would suggest we should just accept on faith that Sarah Palin is qualified."

Schieffer paid tribute to Palin and her remarkable and compelling life story but said that the mainstream media -- not the blogs that spread rumors that the MSM ignored -- didn't mistreat her. Schieffer called Palin's selection a "true game changer" that allowed the GOP to seize the momentum coming out of the conventions earlier this month.

"But the game changer that Wall Street presented last week has trumped that, and now this campaign is no longer about Sarah Palin," Schieffer said. "It is about which of these candidates is going to come up with the right answers on what has happened on Wall Street."

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McCain Advertises Anti-Intellectualism

By chriszuk

This weekend the New York Times Magazine published an interview with Charles Murray, social scientist and author of “The Bell Curve.” Throughout the interview he talks about the importance of blue-collar jobs and what he sees as the fleeing importance of obtaining a bachelor’s degree in lieu of real world experience. While many of his answers are certainly debatable, I found the last question to be the most interesting:

NYT Question: Why is the McCain clan so eager to advertise its anti-intellectualism?
Murray Answer: The last thing we need are more pointy-headed intellectuals running the government. Probably the smartest president we’ve had in terms of I.Q. in the last 50 years was Jimmy Carter, and I think he is the worst president of the last 50 years.
Really? While personally I might consider a more recent president to be the worst in the last 50 years, the really shocking part of that answer lies in Murray’s assertion that intellectuals have no place in government. George W. Bush ran as the anti-intellectual, every-day American, and look where he’s taken the country. Maybe a little bit of intelligence would have gone a long way in his presidency.
Murray’s support for the anti-intellectual isn’t a new concept. The Republican political machine has repeatedly used the notion against the Democrats, implying that intellectualism equals elitism. They did it in 2000 with Al Gore. They did it in 2004 with John Kerry. And they are trying it once again in 2008 with Barack Obama. For some reason the Republicans seem to use recycled strategies, regardless of the opponent, and for some reason, they seem to be successful.
It’s an interesting strategy. But why does it work? I can understand the American voter’s desire to feel as though their candidate is relatable. But that doesn’t mean that the candidate shouldn’t be intelligent. Personally, I would think that the leader of the free world should be smarter than the rest of us. That’s why we’re electing them. We’re not electing them to have a few drinks with us at the bar or to sympathize with us about our relationship woes. We’re electing them to solve our nation’s biggest problems and to make intelligent decisions about things like war, healthcare, affordable housing, etc.
While I do think that the Republican campaign has tried to use Obama’s Ivy League education against him, I think that it is much more difficult to make the intellectual elitist argument in this election. While he has been called “uppity” and a celebrity, those characterizations really didn’t seem to stick. In his acceptance speech, Obama made the very accurate statement that his story is our story. He highlighted his grandmother’s sacrifices and his single mother’s desire to give him the opportunities that she never had. He spoke about his diverse background and the difficulties he faced because of it. And despite these challenges, he attended an Ivy League undergraduate and law school, he was a successful community organizer in some of the poorest parts of Chicago, and he went on to the Illinois State Legislature, the Senate, and is now one step away from becoming the first African American President of the United States. Intellectual? Yes. Elitist? Absolutely not.
As the election nears, we are repeatedly reminded of the increasing importance of its outcome. Though Charles Murray may argue differently, I think we’ve already had our fair share of the anti-intellectuals running our government. It’s about time for a change. And I think that the child of a single mother turned Ivy League student turned community organizer turned Senator turned presidential nominee brings a combination of “average American-ness” and intellectualism that will only benefit our country. And though he surely can’t be characterized as just another “pointy-headed intellectual,” he sure seems a hell of alot smarter than the current Executive or the nominee who doesn’t know too much about the economy. And in times like these, I’m inclined to think that that’s exactly what we need.

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McCain Aide’s Firm Was Paid by Freddie Mac

WASHINGTON — One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the credit crisis paid $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through last month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain’s campaign manager, according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.

The disclosure undercuts a statement by Mr. McCain on Sunday night that the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had had no involvement with the company for the last several years.

Mr. Davis’s firm received the payments from the company, Freddie Mac, until it was taken over by the government this month along with Fannie Mae, the other big mortgage lender whose deteriorating finances helped precipitate the cascading problems on Wall Street, the people said.

They said they did not recall Mr. Davis’s doing much substantive work for the company in return for the money, other than speak to a political action committee of high-ranking employees in October 2006 on the approaching midterm Congressional elections. They said Mr. Davis’s firm, Davis & Manafort, had been kept on the payroll because of Mr. Davis’s close ties to Mr. McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, who by 2006 was widely expected to run again for the White House.

Mr. Davis took a leave from Davis & Manafortfor the presidential campaign, but as a partner and equity-holder continues to benefit from its income. No one at Davis & Manafort other than Mr. Davis was involved in efforts on Freddie Mac’s behalf, the people familiar with the arrangement said.

A Freddie Mac spokeswoman said the company would not comment.

Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for the McCain campaign, did not dispute the payments to Mr. Davis’s firm. But she said that Mr. Davis had stopped taking a salary from his firm by the end of 2006 and that his work did not affect Mr. McCain.

“Senator McCain’s positions on policy matters are based upon what he believes to be in the public interest,” Ms. Hazelbaker said in a written statement.

The revelations come at a time when Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama are sparring over ties to lobbyists and special interests and seeking political advantage in a campaign being reshaped by the financial crisis and the plan to bail out investment firms.

Mr. McCain’s campaign has been attacking Senator Barack Obama, his Democratic rival, for ties to former officials of the mortgage lenders, both of which have long histories of cultivating allies in the two parties to fend off efforts to restrict their activities. Mr. McCain has been running a television commercial suggesting that Mr. Obama takes advice on housing issues from Franklin D. Raines, former chief executive of Fannie Mae, a contention flatly denied by Mr. Raines and the Obama campaign.

Freddie Mac’s roughly $500,000 in payments to Davis & Manafort began immediately after Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in late 2005 disbanded an advocacy coalition that they had set up and hired Mr. Davis to run, the people familiar with the arrangement said.

From 2000 to the end of 2005, Mr. Davis had received nearly $2 million as president of the coalition, the Homeownership Alliance, which the companies created to help them oppose new regulations and protect their status as federally chartered companies with implicit government backing. That status let them borrow cheaply, helping to fuel rapid growth but also their increased purchases of the risky mortgage securities that were their downfall.

On Sunday, in an interview with CNBC and The New York Times, Mr. McCain responded to a question about Mr. Davis’s role in the advocacy group through 2005 by saying that his campaign manager “has had nothing to do with it since, and I’ll be glad to have his record examined by anybody who wants to look at it.”

Such assertions, along with McCain campaign television ads tying Mr. Obama to former Fannie Mae chiefs, have riled current and former officials of the two companies and provoked them to volunteer rebuttals. The two officials with direct knowledge of Freddie Mac’s post-2005 contract with Mr. Davis spoke on condition of anonymity. Four other outside consultants, three Democrats and a Republican also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the arrangement was widely known among people involved in Freddie Mac’s lobbying efforts.

As president of the Homeownership Alliance, Mr. Davis got $30,000 to $35,000 a month. Mr. Davis, along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have characterized the alliance as a coalition of many housing industry and consumer groups to promote homeownership, but numerous current and former officials at both companies say the two mortgage companies created and bankrolled the operation to combat efforts by competitors to rein in their business. They dissolved the group at the end of 2005 as part of cost-cutting in the wake of accounting scandals and, at Freddie Mac, a lobbying scandal that forced out its former top Republican lobbyist.

On Monday, the McCain campaign accused The New York Times of bias for reporting the payments to Mr. Davis for the alliance work from the mortgage giants. Mr. Davis said that he had worked not for the two companies but for the advocacy group, which included other nonprofit organization as well, and was focused only on promoting homeownership.

After the Homeownership Alliance was dissolved, Mr. Davis asked to stay on a retainer, the people familiar with the deal said. Hollis McLoughlin, who was chief of staff to Richard F. Syron, Freddie Mac’s chief executive, arranged for a new contract with Davis & Manafort, at the reduced rate of $15,000 a month, they said. Mr. Syron lost his job in the government takeover this month. Mr. McLoughlin, who through a spokeswoman declined to comment, was a former chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady in the first President Bush’s administration, and has longstanding Republican ties.

Mr. Davis was hired as a consultant, not a lobbyist, the officials said. Davis & Manafort in recent years has filed federal lobbying reports for a number of companies but not Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae.

Later in 2006, Mr. Davis was working on Mr. McCain’s emerging presidential campaign, as chief financial officer. The only thing that Freddie Mac officials could recall Mr. Davis doing for the company was the October 2006 pre-election forum with mid-level and senior executives who contribute to Freddie PAC, the company’s political action committee.

An electronic invitation to the employees, read by an official to the New York Times, said “Please join us for political food for thought” with Paul Begala, a longtime Democratic consultant, “and Rick Davis, former 2000 presidential campaign manager and current advisor to Senator John McCain.” Mr. Begala, who also was a paid consultant to Freddie Mac until this month, confirmed that the event took place.

At least two other people associated with Mr. McCain have ties to either Freddie Mac. The lobbying firm of the Republican that Mr. McCain has enlisted to plan his transition to the White House should he be elected, William Timmons Sr., earned nearly $3 million from Freddie Mac between 2000 and its seizure, federal lobbying records show. Mr. Timmons is founder of Timmons & Co., one of Washington’s best-known lobbying shops. The payments were first reported by Bloomberg News.

Mark Buse, Mr. McCain’s chief of staff for his Senate office, also is a Freddie Mac alumnus. He and his former lobbying employer, ML Strategies, registered to lobby for the company in July 2003, and received $460,000 before the association ended after 2004.

Mr. McCain and his advisers have argued that whatever connections Mr. Davis and other McCain campaign officials have had to the mortgage giants, Mr. McCain in the Senate has been an advocate for reforming them. And they have suggested that Mr. Obama is linked to the companies through donations from their employees ties to former officials there, including James Johnson, another former chief executive of Fannie Mae who was the head of Mr. Obama’s vice presidential search team until stepping aside after coming under criticism for getting a mortgage on favorable terms.

Since his first campaign for the Senate in 2004, Senator Obama has received about $126,000 in contributions from employees of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while Senator McCain, over the last decade, has received about $22,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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