Democratic Party Ability Broker James A. Johnson Dies at 76

James A. Johnson, a Democratic Get together electrical power broker who headed the home loan-finance big Fannie Mae in the 1990s and launched no cost each day performances at the Kennedy Heart for the Undertaking Arts in Washington, died Sunday, his relatives mentioned. He was 76.

His son, Alfred Johnson, explained the bring about was complications from a neurological situation.

The son of a distinguished Minnesota condition legislator, Mr. Johnson assisted manage presidential campaigns for Eugene McCarthy, Edmund Muskie and George McGovern and served as chairman of Walter Mondale’s White Home bid in 1984.

Though all of those candidates lost, Mr. Johnson designed up a nationwide network of contacts and a status for presenting pragmatic and discreet assistance. Those characteristics led to valuable roles as an investment banker and head of Fannie Mae. He also served as chairman at the Brookings Establishment, a liberal feel tank, and was a director of

Goldman Sachs Team Inc.


Target Corp.

Six-foot-3 and elegantly dressed, he grew to become chairman and CEO of Fannie in early 1991 and ran the corporation when it was reporting report earnings and making up lobbying abilities that made it what a later on Fannie chairman, Stephen Ashley, at the time described as “a hell of a device,” able to crush political enemies.

When questioned what he did for a living, Mr. Johnson at times quipped, “I discuss.” He knew minimal about the home finance loan small business ahead of joining Fannie Mae but experienced the political savvy desired to preserve the privileges the business appreciated in the home finance loan sector. Set up in a wingback chair near the fireplace in his regal office suite, he been given visitors who had been ushered in by liveried doormen resembling all those in posh accommodations.

A minor aspect of the New Deal, the Federal Countrywide Property finance loan Association, later on dubbed Fannie Mae, was developed in 1938 to acquire house loan financial loans from loan providers as a way of supplying them dollars to make extra loans and encourage home making. The federal govt turned Fannie into a firm owned by non-public shareholders in 1968, but it retained a general public job and particular privileges. Bond traders assumed the governing administration would bail it out in a disaster. That allowed Fannie and its eventual rival,

Freddie Mac,

to borrow money at very low rates and make big earnings investing in home loans.

Fannie’s central part in housing manufactured it subject matter to political pressure from men and women who needed the organization to do more to aid weak men and women and people worried about escalating fiscal threats, in the end backed by taxpayers.

In the early 1990s, Mr. Johnson led a lobbying marketing campaign that frustrated congressional attempts to impose a great deal tighter regulation on Fannie and Freddie. U.S. Rep. Jim Leach, an Iowa Republican, complained that 1992 laws developing a new agency to regulate Fannie and Freddie was mostly prepared by their lawyers. Mr. Johnson said Fannie’s housing mission would be imperiled if it was micromanaged by regulators.

Fannie’s net income far more than tripled from $1.17 billion in 1990 to $3.91 billion in 1999. The business was at the apex of its electric power when Mr. Johnson retired at the close of 1998. Below his successors, controversy more than accounting methods pressured restatements of earnings, and losses on mortgage loan defaults prompted a authorities takeover of Fannie and Freddie in 2008.

Mr. Johnson didn’t escape all of the fallout. A 2006 regulatory report uncovered that Fannie had failed to disclose a consulting agreement it gave Mr. Johnson immediately after he stepped down as chairman. The arrangement gave him service fees of about $390,000 a yr, furthermore two assist-staff members, a motor vehicle and partial payment for a driver, the report said. Mr. Johnson also had a pension of $852,000 a calendar year.

Two previous administrators explained Fannie experienced stored Mr. Johnson on the payroll partly due to the fact of his rapport with Fannie’s most critical shopper, Angelo Mozilo, who headed Countrywide Monetary Corp.

In June 2008, Mr. Johnson resigned as an adviser to the Obama presidential campaign right after Wall Street Journal stories about property finance loan financial loans he received from Countrywide. At the time, a law firm for Mr. Johnson claimed the loans were designed on typical phrases. The House Committee on Oversight and Federal government Reform in 2012 produced inner Countrywide e-mails indicating that Mr. Johnson had received underneath-current market desire fees on specific Countrywide loans. The report quoted Mr. Mozilo telling a colleague by e-mail that particular terms for Mr. Johnson were “just a smaller token of my appreciation for the organization that he sends to us and for his loyalty to the Corporation.”

Mr. Johnson was extensively praised for his purpose at the Kennedy Centre, exactly where in 1997 he established the Millennium Stage application and built donations to aid fund it. The goal, he stated, was to give courses to individuals who formerly couldn’t afford to pay for tickets to gatherings at the centre.

James Arthur Johnson was born into a family of Norwegian descent on Dec. 24, 1943, and grew up in Benson, Minn., a farming city with a inhabitants of about 3,000. His father, Alfred I. Johnson, a real-estate broker and property builder, was a leader in Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Social gathering and served in the point out legislature, like as speaker of the House. His mother, Adeline Johnson, taught Latin, German and social scientific tests at the Benson large university.

Young Jim sang in the choir at a church presenting “a tolerant version of Lutheranism,” he recalled in a 2016 oral heritage. He played centre on his large faculty basketball staff and was captain of the golf crew.

At the University of Minnesota, the place he served as scholar human body president, he gained a political science diploma. He went on for a master’s diploma in public plan at Princeton College. In 1965, he traveled to Selma, Ala., to join civil-rights marches.

Mr. Johnson was a lecturer at Princeton and became an aide to Sen. Mondale of Minnesota. When Mr. Mondale was vice president in the Carter administration, Mr. Johnson was his government assistant and sat in the vicinity of him in the White Household. In an interview Saturday, Mr. Mondale explained Mr. Johnson as trusted and energetic. “He and I were as shut as two people today could be,” Mr. Mondale mentioned.

In the late 1980s, he was an financial commitment banker at Shearson Lehman Hutton. He met David Maxwell, who then headed Fannie Mae and recruited Mr. Johnson initial as an adviser and then as his successor.

Mr. Johnson is survived by his spouse, Heather Muir Johnson, a personal banker, as properly as his son, Alfred, and a grandson. His relationship to Maxine Isaacs ended in divorce.

In his oral heritage, Mr. Johnson stated he had been lucky to have “a system and a megaphone” for his political and social brings about. He skimmed in excess of the controversies at Fannie Mae and stated, “I have no rearview mirror. I’m relentlessly ahead-seeking.”

Publish to James R. Hagerty at [email protected]

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