James A. Johnson (businessman)

James A. Johnson (businessman)

James A. Johnson (born December 24, 1943) is a United States Democratic Party political figure. He was the campaign manager for Walter Mondale's failed 1984 presidential bid and chaired the vice presidential selection committee for the presidential campaign of John Kerry. He was involved in the vice-presidential selection process for the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama.


Johnson attended the University of Minnesota, and later received a Master of Public Policy degree from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He has been awarded honorary degrees from Howard University, Skidmore College, Augsburg College and the University of Minnesota.


Johnson has long been one of Washington's most prominent leaders, holding leadership positions in business, the arts, and politics.

Johnson began his career as a faculty member at Princeton UniversityFact|date=September 2008, later moving on to the United States Senate as a staff member and to the Dayton-Hudson Corporation (now Target Corp.) as director of public affairs. He was executive assistant to Vice President Walter Mondale during the entire Carter Administration (1977-1981). Later, he founded and headed Public Strategies, a private consulting firm, from 1981 to 1985 before leaving for Lehman Brothers.

From 1991 to 1998, he served as chairman and chief executive officer of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the quasi-public organization that guarantees mortgages for millions of American homeowners. Previously, he was vice chairman of Fannie Mae (1990-1991) and a managing director with Lehman Brothers (1985-1990). An Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) report [ [http://www.ofheo.gov/media/pdf/FNMfindingstodate17sept04.pdf Report of Findings to Date - Special Examination of Fannie Mae] ] from September 2004 found that, during Johnson's tenure as CEO, Fannie Mae had improperly deferred $200 million in expenses. This enabled top executives, including Johnson and his successor, Franklin Raines, to receive substantial bonuses in 1998. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A21138-2004Dec22.html High Pay at Fannie Mae For the Well-Connected] , Washington post, 23 December 2004] A 2006 OFHEO report [ [http://www.ofheo.gov/media/pdf/FNMSPECIALEXAM.PDF Report of the Special Examination of Fannie Mae] , May 2006] found that Fannie Mae had substantially under-reported Johnson's compensation. Originally reported as $6-7 million, Johnson actually received approximately $21 million.

As of 2006, he is a vice chairman of the private banking firm Perseus LLC, a position he has held since 2001. He is also a board member at Goldman Sachs, Gannett Company, Inc., a media holding group, KB Home, a home construction firm, Target Corporation, Temple-Inland, and UnitedHealth Group.

Johnson has also served as chairman of both the Kennedy Center for the Arts (1996-2004) and the Brookings Institution (1994-2003). He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Friends of Bilderberg, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Trilateral Commission.

On May 22, 2007, Democratic Party officials confidentially divulged that Obama had asked Johnson "to lead the process" for selecting Obama's running mate. [ [http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/vice-president/2008/05/22/ Vice President - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times Blog ] ] On June 4, 2008, Obama announced the formation of a three-person committee to vet vice presidential candidates, including Johnson. [ [http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aOyXeU0jfK_4&refer=home Bloomberg.com: Worldwide ] ] However, Johnson soon became a source of controversy when it was reported that he had received loans directly from Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide Financial, a company implicated in the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis. [See "Obama VP Vetter Tied to Controversial Mortgage Crisis", http://blogs.usatoday.com/onpolitics/2008/06/obama-vp-vetter.html?loc=interstitialskip, USA Today, 9 June 2008] Although he was not accused of any wrongdoing and was initially defended by Obama on the grounds that he was simply an unpaid volunteer, Johnson announced he would step down from the vice-presidential vetting position on June 11, 2008, in order to avoid being a distraction to Obama's campaign. [ [http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5j-8g-0SMVRbSScyiKVhLBMgyYVAQD9183J3O0] Dead link|date=August 2008]

Johnson is a strong Obama supporter who has personally donated the maximum $4,600 to his 2008 Presidential campaign, as well as $1,000 to Obama's Senate campaign in 2004. [Donna Martin also donated 4M. [http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/search.php?name=johnson%2C+james&state=&zip=&employ=perseus&cand=obama&c2008=Y&c2006=Y&c2004=Y&sort=D&capcode=pg8bn&submit=Submit OpenSecrets.com] , by the Center for Responsive Politics] In addition to personal donations, Johnson is a bundler for the Obama campaign, raising between $200,000 and $500,000. [ [http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/bundlers.php?id=N00009638 Center for Responsive Politics] , September 2008] He has also participated in Obama campaign efforts to recruit former Clinton supporters. [http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0908/Johnson_to_lead_Obama_briefing.html]

On September 19, 2008, the McCain campaign released an ad critical of Obama which linked him to Johnson. [http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2008/09/19/mccain-attacks-obama-on-ties-to-former-fannie-mae-ceos/]

See also

* Countrywide financial political loan scandal
* Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac



*Associated Press 2008-06-04, [http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2008/06/04/2008-06-04_obama_taps_3_for_veep_search.html]
* [http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/22/obama-begins-search-for-vice-president/index.html?hp "The New York Times", 2008-05-22, Obama Begins Search for Vice President]

Further reading

* [http://www2.goldmansachs.com/our-firm/about-us/leadership/board-of-directors.html#JamesA.Johnson Goldman Sachs biography]
* [http://www.perseusllc.com/bios.htm#johnson Perseus biography]
* [http://www.slate.com/id/2423/ A Medici With Your Money] - article critical of Fannie Mae at "Slate" magazine
* [http://www.minnpost.com/stories/2008/06/03/2078/obama_turns_to_trusted_political_insider_jim_johnson_for_key_campaign_role Obama turns to trusted political insider Jim Johnson for key campaign role, 2008-06-03]

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