McCain aide on Freddie Mac’s payroll

Almost up until the time it was taken over by the government in the nation’s financial crisis, one of two housing giants paid $15,000 a month to the lobbying firm of John McCain’s campaign manager, a person familiar with the financial arrangement says.

The money from Freddie Mac to the firm of Rick Davis is on top of more than $30,000 a month that went directly to Davis for five years starting in 2000.

The $30,000 a month came from both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the other housing entity now under the government’s control because of the nation’s financial crisis.

All the payments were first reported by The New York Times, which posted an article Tuesday night revealing the $15,000 a month to the firm of Davis Manafort. The newspaper quoted two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement.

In response to the latest disclosure, the McCain campaign issued a statement saying that Davis left the firm and stopped taking salary from the firm in 2006.

A person familiar with the contract says the $15,000 a month in payments to Davis’ firm started around the end of 2005 and continued until the past month or so. The person spoke on condition of anonymity.

The connection between Davis and the housing giants that figure centrally in the global financial crunch emerged after the McCain campaign unleashed a sharp attack on Democratic rival Barack Obama.

McCain has tied Obama to Fannie and Freddie’s troubles and has called on Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines — both Obama supporters and former Fannie Mae executives — to return large golden parachute payments they received from the corporations after leaving.

McCain’s campaign released a new television ad that says Raines is among those advising Obama on housing policy.

Obama’s campaign released a statement from Raines, who says he is not an Obama adviser.

Robert McCarson, a former spokesman for Fannie Mae, criticized the McCain campaign’s attack on Obama, given the five years of payments to Davis.

"It’s either idiocy or hubris" on the McCain campaign’s part, McCarson, a Democrat, said in an interview.