Obama VP Vetter Draws Heat for Iffy Salary, Mortgages

GOP hammering VP search head Johnson over Fannie Mae ties
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2008 11:27 AM CDT
Jim Johnson.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
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(Newser) – The questionable past of the man leading Barack Obama's VP search was a gift to the GOP trying to rough up Obama's image as a squeaky-clean outsider, the Washington Post observes, but it also underscores the difficulty the Democrat faces in broadening his grass-roots campaign to the general-election stage. Obama has to bring aboard Washington insiders like former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson, but the Johnson choice has backfired badly.

Johnson dodged the accounting scandal that errupted at Fannie Mae after he left, but he turned out to be wide open to criticism over earnings manipulation to boost his salary, and sketchy, below rate mortgages he received, among other lapses. Obama insists Johnson is subject to a lower level of scrutiny, as he has no long-term role with the campaign. His campaign manager adds, “He’s a volunteer, and the job is just to gather information, period.”  But the heat is on anyway—and not likely to go away.