Rep. Barney Frank said Thursday he helped his then-domestic partner land a job with Fannie Mae in the 1990s while Frank was serving on the House panel overseeing the mortgage company.
The Massachusetts Democrat said he had praised Herb Moses' qualifications when a Fannie Mae executive approached him and asked about Moses. Frank said the executive, Gerald R. McMurray, had once worked on Capitol Hill, and knew that Frank and Moses were live-in partners.
"I said, `Yeah, I think (Moses) is great. Here's his story, check him out,'" Frank recalled in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Frank said that was the only contact he had with Fannie Mae about Moses and the job, an entry-level analyst post. A Fannie Mae spokeswoman declined to comment.
Frank, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, was responding to a new book on the financial crisis, "Reckless Endangerment," which first reported his role in helping Moses get the job.
The book cited Moses' hiring as an example of the cozy relations that flourished between Congress and Fannie Mae as it sought to win favorable treatment from lawmakers who oversaw the lending giant.
Frank called any questions about a conflict of interest "ridiculous." Congress at the time was considering legislation to improve oversight of the mortgage agency.
The congressman said many members of Congress have spouses who work for the federal government.
"It's a very common thing," Frank said. "There is no rule against it. Washington is a very small community."
Frank said he was not a member of the subcommittee that dealt directly with legislation about Fannie Mae when Moses worked there. He also said that when the financial services panel once considered a measure that would have limited executive compensation at Fannie Mae, he simply voted "present" and made a public statement about not participating in the vote because his partner worked there.
Moses, who had previously worked as an economist at the Agriculture Department, had just gotten an MBA from the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth before he was hired by Fannie Mae in 1991. Moses left Fannie Mae around the time he and Frank split up in 1998.