The nation’s financial crisis is spurring activity on the lobbying front, with some companies signing up for more K Street help and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac letting some lobbyists go.
Fannie and Freddie, which were effectively taken over by the federal government earlier this month and told to stop lobbying, have officially terminated at least two lobbying contracts so far, disclosure records show. Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock terminated its relationship with Fannie on Sept. 22, after receiving $50,000 from Fannie this quarter. Arnold & Porter’s Dwight Fettig cut his ties to Freddie on Aug. 21, about two weeks before the government bailout. He was an in-house lobbyist at Freddie until March. When he joined Arnold & Porter in April, he brought Freddie with him as a client. Fettig says he ended the relationship because of a conflict with another Arnold & Porter client, and not because of the financial turmoil. Arnold & Porter received $30,000 from Freddie this quarter.
Meanwhile, other companies are calling in reinforcements. Lobbyists from The Livingston Group and its affiliates, John Duncan and Associates and the Crosby Group, filed registrations for MERSCORP this month. According to the company’s Web site, MERSCORP offers an electronic system that registers mortgage loans and “was created by the mortgage banking industry to streamline the mortgage process.” John Duncan, the lobbyist taking the lead on the team representing MERSCORP, says the technology could be useful in the wake of the current crisis because the registry allows individual mortgages and securities created by mortgages to be tracked over time. As heightened attention is placed on increasing regulations on the market, Duncan says, “We want policy makers and Congress to understand that as they look to ways to make the system more transparent.”
Duncan says he has already held meetings to start educating the government about the technology offered by MERSCORP, but he would not specify who he has met with. Although Livingston and the two affiliated firms did not file until this month, MERSCORP registered to lobby with them during the first week of August.