Grover Norquist and Jane Hamsher are not often on the same side of anything, beyond both usually being in the Western Hemisphere. Norquist is a leading voice of fiscal conservatism as head of the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform; Hamsher is a leading voice of the digital left, whose blog Firedoglake has taken on influence in speaking up for progressives during the health care debate and in pressuring lawmakers through its activist arm, FDL Action.
But the two have united to level serious allegations at White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and demand his resignation.
Hamsher and Norquist coauthored a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder today calling for a Department of Justice investigation of Emanuel for his role on the board of Freddie Mac, alleging that the White House, since Emanuel arrived there, has blocked an investigation of the government-sponsored mortgage lender.
Emanuel served on Freddie Mac's board in 2000-2001, when he quit to run (successfully) for Congress. He has also recently sparked the ire of liberals like Hamsher after it was reported that he pushed for Senate Democratic leaders to compromise with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) on health care reform and jettison an expansion of Medicare from the Senate bill.
See their letter below:
Attorney General of the United States of America
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
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 cover up of potentially malfeasance 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 support your acting 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 that would be needed after that date. But there currently is no Inspector General exercising independent oversight of 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 $6 trillion 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 a trillion-dollar slush fund into corruption-riddled companies 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 Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department to begin an investigation into the cause of 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 continued vacancy of Fannie and Freddie's Inspector General post, 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.
We both come from differing political ideologies. One of us is the conservative head of a transparency 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 wake of corruption-riddled bailouts. These bailouts continue to rob Main Street to benefit Wall Street, and because that, we together demand the resignation of Mr. Emanuel, a man who has steadfastly worked to obstruct both oversight and inquiry into the matter. Rahm Emanuel's 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
Firedoglake.com Americans for Tax Reform
Norquist and Hamsher cite a Chicago Tribune story from March reporting that, while Emanuel was there, Freddie Mac's board was encouraged to misstate earnings and that Emanuel benefited from a Freddie Mac fundraiser after he left the board to run for Congress (Freddie Mac was fined by the FEC for illegally hosting fundraisers for politicians, the Tribune reported). The Justice Department possesses board minutes and correspondence from Emanuel's time there, the two say; they also cite the removal of the former Inspector General in charge of overseeing Freddie Mac during the transfer of oversight authorities after Freddie Mac was taken into conservatorship as part of its government bailout.