(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, grilled executives from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Finance Agency Wednesday on executive compensation.
Issa asked Fannie Mae CEO Michael Williams, who worked for the company for 20 years, when he first received compensation including bonuses over $1 million.
“I had the luxury of making over $1 million. I exactly remember the year I made over $1 million. I’m sure you do. What year did you first have compensation including bonus that put you over $1 million?” Issa asked.
“Congressman, I’m not sure when, what year that was,” Williams said.
“So money’s not that important to you,” Issa asked.
“No, money is important to all of us who are here today, sir. And it’s important…” Williams responded.
“Okay, but you’re a career government agency employee. GSE is a government agency effectively,” Issa said.
“Congressman, I’ve been an employee at Fannie Mae for 20 years serving in a vast array of roles beginning in technology all the way through to chief operating officer,” Williams responded.
“I don’t want to beat the dead horse, but you came out at $115,000 to an organization backed by the government that had a pay scale. Did you ever have an expectation that you were going to make not just seven figures but several of them, that you’d make $8 or 9 million every two years?” Issa asked.
“Congressman, I think we all hope to aspire to advance in our careers and advance our compensation as we do,” Williams said.
Issa pointed out that Williams made $9.3 million for the last two years while President Barack Obama made $800,000. “You think that’s, that’s okay?” Issa asked.
“Congressman, I’ve been brought in and asked to take on this role as CEO so that I can put in place a management team that can help achieve the goals of conservatorship, which is stabilize the company, provide liquidity to the market and help strug…” Williams responded.
“Okay, but you’re still losing money. You’ve taken $90 billion, and you’re getting $9 million a year,” Issa said. He turned his attention to Freddie Mac CEO Charles “Ed” Haldeman.
“Now Bloomberg and other organizations were concerned when you came on board, because you don’t come with a background like Mr. Williams does. Basically, you’re not qualified to run the organization if one were to look at your historic resume. That was a concern, but you did come out of the private sector. Hopefully, you remember. What did you make the last year you were at Putnam?” Issa asked.
“I don’t recall,” Haldeman responded.
“Did you make more than a million dollars?” Issa asked.
“Yes, I did,” Haldeman said.
“Was your compensation tied to performance?” Issa asked.
“Yes, it was,” Haldeman said.
“Mr. DeMarco, from what I can tell, your $230,000 salary is all that you get, right? Issa asked Federal Housing Finance Agency Acting Director Edward DeMarco.
“Yes, all I get is my salary,” DeMarco said.
“And you do stay for that menial amount of money even though you could make money elsewhere?” Issa asked.
“I’m still here, Mr. Chairman,” DeMarco responded.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the committee, told Williams and Haldeman, “You all come from a different world than the one I come from. If I had made a million dollars, I sure would know when I made it. That’s for sure.”