President Obama’s nominee to be the U.S. Army’s top lawyer worked for years as chief compliance officer at Fannie Mae, where he once suggested suing a federal agency overseeing the troubled mortgage giant, according to public records.
But Donald M. Remy left out Fannie Mae’s name in a work history he recently sent to the Senate committee weighing his nomination as the Army’s general counsel.
Instead, Mr. Remy, 42, described Fannie Mae - which the government took over last year amid an accounting scandal - only as “a major U.S. company.” The same biography lists the names of Mr. Remy’s other past and current employers.
Mr. Remy, who worked at Fannie Mae from 2000 to 2006, has called the omission an oversight and said he is proud of his work for the agency.
His nomination is pending, but at least two Republican senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee - John McCain of Arizona and Mel Martinez of Florida - have raised questions about why Fannie Mae wasn’t included on Mr. Remy’s work history. The senators also want to know more about Mr. Remy’s duties at the company before Fannie Mae disclosed billions of dollars in accounting errors in 2006.
Citing “serious concerns” about Mr. Remy’s “lack of candor,” Mr. Martinez wants another hearing on the nomination, according to a letter he recently sent to Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat and chairman of the committee.
Messages left at Mr. Remy’s law office in Washington and with the Army weren’t returned Tuesday or Wednesday. But in written responses to the Senate and in testimony last month, Mr. Remy called it a “mistake” that he didn’t list the name of his former employer.
Many of Fannie Mae’s problems were brought to light in a 2006 report by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). The report never suggested involvement by Mr. Remy in any accounting misdeeds, but one of his actions was singled out as an example of how, according to the regulators, Fannie Mae sought to resist OFHEO oversight.
“I think it may be time to sue OFHEO,” Mr. Remy wrote in an e-mail obtained by OFHEO. “I don’t believe it appropriate for them to undertake congressional action. Alternatively, we could wait until their actual regulatory attempts and then stop it.”
In a written response to questions by Mr. Martinez about that e-mail, Mr. Remy said he was not seeking to prevent OFHEO from investigating Fannie Mae. He said the e-mail related to “press accounts” of regulations OFHEO was pursuing that “appeared to go beyond the authority granted the agency by Congress.”
The same 2006 OFHEO report concluded that Mr. Remy’s job as Fannie Mae’s chief compliance officer “conflicted directly” with his other job duties.
Another 2006 special report on Fannie Mae, whose authors included former Sen. Warren B. Rudman, noted that “Remy did not have the authority, visibility or range of functions appropriate to a chief compliance officer.”
In a series of written responses to Mr. Martinez, Mr. Remy said his job responsibilities were determined by his superiors and “it was never found or suggested that such a conflict resulted in an actual or apparent impropriety.”
Mr. Remy disclosed his ties to Fannie Mae in a filing with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics. When he turns 65, he is due $4,631 per month from his Fannie Mae retirement plan, according to the disclosure. He also listed Fannie Mae as a client through his current work at the law firm of Latham & Watkins.
If confirmed, Mr. Remy won’t be the only former high-ranking Fannie Mae executive to land a job in the Obama administration. Thomas Donilon, a deputy national security adviser, held several senior jobs at Fannie Mae from 1999 to 2005, including vice president of law and policy. He also was a registered lobbyist for the company.
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
The young drop coverage to avoid higher premiums
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
News and views on the Civil War.
Searching for a Republican agenda that can thrive in an increasingly urban, diverse, and secular America.
Wall Street news before (and occasionally after) the opening bell.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc