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Breaking News: Jim Johnson resigns from Obama campaign

Jim Johnson, the former head of Fannie Mae who was leading Barack Obama's vice presidential search when his favorable loans with Countrywide Financial were revealed, is stepping down from the Obama campaign, he says, to avoid becoming a distraction.

In a statement just issued from the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago momeJim Johnson, former head of Fannie Mae and veteran Washington insider who was heading the vice presidential search team for Barack Obama has resigned under firents ago, the candidate sought to minimize the impact of the embarrassing episode. He said:

“Jim did not want to distract in any way from the very important task of gathering information about my vice presidential nominee, so he has made a decision to step aside that I accept. 

"We have a very good selection process underway, and I am confident that it will produce a number of highly qualified candidates for me to choose from in the weeks ahead.  I remain grateful to Jim for his service and his efforts in this process.”

The fact is the situation was untenable for a campaign that parades itself as an agent of change prepared to invade Washington and reform its sleazy insider ways. There are few other modern Democrats who are more savvy or insider than Johnson, who also happens to be a significant fundraiser for Obama.

He and the campaign could sense the lasting legs this story of the wealthy Johnson getting special insider loan rates from Countrywide as a "friend of Angelo's," Angelo Mozilo, the co-founder of Countrywide. That's the company Obama has criticized by name as bearing a large responsibility for the current loan crisis.

Obama tried to make it clear yesterday that he couldn't vet everybody and that Johnson really was not "working" for him, he was merely helping with the VP search and did not have a formal campaign position. But by this morning even in Chicago they could tell that wasn't washing.

Special deals for others also bring back memories of Obama's early Illinois connections with now-convicted political insider, Antoin Tony Rezsko.

So Johnson, D.C. veteran that he is, knew he had to walk the plank. He offered to resign early today or late last night. And the campaign said, gee, well O.K. So long.

--Andrew Malcolm

Photo Credit: AP

 
Comments () | Archives (14)

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So Don and Andrew wants to write this non story up, but not about what the rest of the media world is talking about: McCain saying it's "not too important" if the troops stay in Iraq forever. Do your job, LA TIMES! Stop taking talking point memos from your Republican owners!

[Note: We write about McCain's comments hours ago in another blog item. SM ]

Oh, good heavens.

The Obama campaign's like a pretty, shiny rock under which all kinds of slimy creatures wiggle around; as soon as someone kicks it the worms all scramble for cover.

It's been reported elsewhere that Mr Johnson, in addition to his troubling behavior at FNMA, is also a George Soros associate. If true, this is the kind of thing that an independent and fair-minded press would be telling us.

lol, Not another distraction. *Hope* *Change* /end Zombie

That was not the Jim Johnson Barrack Obama knew.

It is amazing for a supposedly "new" type of candidate that Barry O has surronded himself with slimeballs. Barry O is just as corrupt as the rest of them. How anyone can look and listen to who he surrounds himself with and still put Barry O on a pedestal is beyond me. As far as his speaking abilities...his ummms, errrs, stutters and pauses during the "Johnson" press conference made McCain seem like Kennedy.

There are plenty more sleazy insider friends of Obama back here at his hometown. He may not be very corrupt himself, but he's proven willing to look the other way when it comes to corruption going on all around him. "change" indeed.

Ah yes, some more of that sterling judgment of Obama's on display. Hey Dem voters, did you ever get the feeling you've been had?

Before its all over, things are gonna get mighty crowed under that Obama bus. That's the Chicago way!

Senator Obama would have us think that he will bring a fresh and pure attitude to the White House, if elected. The fact of the matter is that he is a politician of the same stripe as those he condemns. There is little that is positive about him. Such being the case, no reason exists to vote for him.

Senator Obama would have us think that he will bring a fresh and pure attitude to the White House, if elected. The fact of the matter is that he is a politician of the same stripe as those he condemns. There is little that is positive about him. Such being the case, no reason exists to vote for him.

Pardon me for asking: just what interest rate did Johnson get and when? What was the rate everybody else got at the time?

I know that all mortgages are registered with the federal government (IRS) for tax purposes. Is this information, then, a matter of public record?

I wonder what Barack and MichelleObama's mortgage rate looks like. Maybe this is a new area of opposition research: Mortgage-gate.

Angelo Mozilo (one "L", guys, c'mon) is STILL the Chairman and CEO of Countrywide. BofA hasn't purchased the company just yet.

Does anyone know why the Obama camp chose Mr. Johnson for this role? Was Mr. Johnson a major donor/fundraiser?

It's going to be a long 4 months!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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