You may remember there was a bit of controversy last April when it came out that the Corker-Warner bill to replace Fannie Mae / Federal National Mortgage Assctn Fnni Me (OTCBB:FNMA) and Freddie Mac / Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp (OTCBB:FMCC) with a new government agency was largely written by former Countrywide Financial exec Michael Bright, now working as Senator Bob Corker’s senior financial advisor. Corker-Warner has since morphed into Crapo-Johnson, which kept the same basic framework in place, but critics still argue that Crapo-Johnson’s proposed FMIC would benefit Wall Street at the expense of smaller banks and homeowners.
Crapo-Johnson may be stalled in a deadlocked Congress, but Bright is on the move, taking a new position at BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK). Politico reports that Bright won’t be on BlackRock’s government relations team, but a leaked email gives a different impression.
“I recently began work with BlackRock in their financial markets advisers unit within BlackRock Solutions,” Bright wrote in the email, reports Alana Goodman at the Washington Free Beacon. “I will be splitting time between N.Y. and D.C., but mainly housed in the D.C. office, so I hope to see you all soon.”
Bright’s former employer was a major player in the subprime crisis
Before he became a Senate staffer, Bright worked as a mortgage trader at Countrywide Financial from 2002 – 2006 and then was in charge of TBA and TBA options trading at Wachovia from 2006 – 2008, which had to be acquired by Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) and Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) respectively to avoid simply going under during the financial crisis. Countrywide Financial in particular was heavily involved in the subprime trading that led to the crisis and was found guilty of defrauding Fannie Mae / Federal National Mortgage Assctn Fnni Me (OTCBB:FNMA), and Bank of America has recently agreed to a record $16.6 billion settlement with the Department of Justice covering defective RMBS sold by Merrill Lynch and Countrywide.
BlackRock: Revolving door between politics and finance raises doubts
Bright has never been accused of any wrongdoing, but for him to move from the heart of the subprime crisis to an important government position, influencing the future of the US mortgage market is jarring. For him to take a job with BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK), who lobbied Senators Corker and Mark Warner during the process, seems to confirm people’s worst fears about the revolving door between Washington D.C. and private interests.
And if Bright decides that he prefers to work in the public sector after all, perhaps he can follow BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE:BLK)’s former managing director of financial markets advisory and relationship management John Nichols, currently the chief risk officer at Fannie Mae.