Obama housing adviser Franklin Raines
Former Clinton and Obama budget adviser Franklin Raines owns a key carbon-emissions patent he developed as CEO of the government-sponsored mortgage giant Fannie Mae, positioning him and his partners to make millions of dollars if it is used in any carbon-capping scheme implemented by the Obama administration.
Raines and his associates led Fannie Mae and Congress to believe Fannie Mae owned the patent, despite public records to the contrary, a WND investigation has found.
Raines and his partners carried out their plan by quietly filing for and receiving a second nearly identical carbon-emissions patent that superseded the first patent, according to government records. The second patent was never assigned to Fannie Mae or any other party.
As WND reported, an Enron-like accounting scandal enabled Raines to earn $90 million in his five years as Fannie Mae CEO, from 1999 to 2004.
Raines and his associates applied for the first patent, U.S. Patent No. 6904336, entitled “System and Method for Residential Emissions Trading,” Nov. 8, 2002, while Raines was Fannie Mae CEO. The first patent was issued June 7, 2005.
In three separate assignments made in April and July 2004, Raines and his associates assigned the first patent to Fannie Mae and to CantorCO2e, a London– and San Francisco–based international company self-described as “a leading global provider of financial services to the world’s environmental and energy markets.”
Carlton Bartels, the chief executive of Wall Street trading and investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald and head of the spin-off CantorCO2e organization, was one of Raines’ partners listed as an “inventor” and co-owner of the patent.
On Dec. 21, 2004, Raines accepted “early retirement” as Fannie Mae CEO while Securities and Exchange Commission investigators pursued their inquiry into accounting irregularities under Raines’ management.
On April 28, 2005, Raines and his partners, including Bartels, applied for a second carbon-emissions patent issued Nov. 7, 2006, as U.S. Patent No. 7133750.
The second patent was nearly identical to the first. Only a few sentences in the claims were modified, making the substantive meaning and intent of the second patent no different than the first.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records make clear that the second patent was never assigned to any other party, meaning Raines and the other individuals listed on the patent as “inventors” retained all ownership rights.
Rader, Fishman & Grauer PLLC, the law firm serving as attorney to Raines and his partners for the second patent, told WND client-attorney privilege prevented the law firm from commenting.
Raines could not be reached for comment.
Patent office explains
Jennifer Rankin Byrne, spokeswoman for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, explained to WND regarding the two patents that “one application is a continuation of the other,” such that the two patents are “essentially for the same invention.”
“Basically – the second patent is what’s called a ‘continuation’ of the first application,” she explained in an e-mail to WND. “What this means is that this is a second application for the same invention claimed in a prior application and filed before the original application becomes abandoned or granted. Sometimes the continuation application will have additional claims beyond what was included in the original application, or improvements to the invention in the original application.”
Rankin Byrne confirmed the second patent superseded the first patent.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office extension division confirmed to WND there was no record of any assignments for the second patent and that assignments made for the first patent do not automatically carry forward to the second.
Fannie Mae misled
In response to a WND inquiry, Fannie Mae spokeswoman Janis L. Smith referred WND to a May 25 letter sent by Fannie Mae general counsel Alfred M. Pollard to Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
In the letter, Pollard explained that the first patent “was granted on June 7, 2005, to Fannie Mae and a joint owner, CO2e.com LLC.”
Pollard’s letter appears aimed at explaining to Issa and Chaffetz why Fannie Mae was pursuing a carbon-emissions patent, an issue apparently outside the authority of the mortgage government-sponsored entity.
Pollard, apparently unaware of the second patent, made no reference to it in the letter.
Moreover, Pollard’s letter implies Raines was acting in his capacity as Fannie Mae CEO when he applied for the patents, since the language of the letter makes no distinction between Raines and Fannie Mae applying for the patents.
“In filing the patent application, Fannie Mae did not intend to enter the energy-trading business,” Pollard explained to Congress. “Residential emission trading, if developed in the market, would be conducted by others in the financial industry or other subject-matter experts. Similarly, Fannie Mae did not pursue a patent out of a desire for potential royalties, but instead with the hope it could help facilitate the implementation by others of its original concept that residential builders could leverage their investments in building energy-efficient houses.”
He continued, writing as if Fannie Mae and CO2e.com were the patent applicants, listed as “inventors,” rather than third parties that received a beneficial interest in the patent through an assignment process: “Fannie Mae and CO2e.com LLC opted to protect this business method through the joint filing of a patent application to allow the concept to be implemented by industry participants without their having to fear patent and royalty claims by others, should others obtain a patent on the concept if Fannie Mae and CO2e.com LLC did not.”
Contrary to these representations, Fannie Mae and CO2e.com are not listed as applicants or inventors on either patent.
Issa and Chaffetz did not respond to a WND request for comment. Issa’s office said it is aware of the story and is looking into it.
Raines at Fannie Mae
As WND reported, Raines and two other top Fannie Mae executives agreed to pay $24.7 million, including a $2 million fine, to settle a civil lawsuit filed in December 2006 accusing them of manipulating Fannie Mae earnings, allowing executives to pocket hundreds of millions in bonuses from 1998 to 2004.
Raines was forced to give up Fannie Mae stock options valued at $15.6 million as part of the settlement.
On July 17, 2008, the the Washington Post ran a profile piece on Raines stating he “has been quietly constructing a new life for himself” in which he takes “calls from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters.”
Prior to the settlement, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, the government regulator that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, had sought $100 million against Raines and the other two executives, plus restitution totaling more than $115 million in bonus money tied to the accounting scheme.
Fannie Mae separately paid a $400 million civil fine in a settlement with the oversight office and the SEC in an agreement to make top-to-bottom changes in its accounting procedures to avoid future accounting scandals.
The SEC accused Fannie Mae under Raines’ leadership of misstating earnings for three and a half years, leading to an estimated $9 billion earnings restatement that wiped out 40 percent of Fannie Mae’s profits from 2001 to 2004, according to Business Week.
Central to the Raines accounting scandal was a strategy to “cook the books” of Fannie Mae to show the type of earnings that would trigger hundreds of millions of bonuses to Raines and other key Fannie Mae executives.
When the scandal surfaced, Raines resigned from Fannie Mae in December 2004 with a $19 million severance package.
Fannie Mae accounting manager Roger Barnes charged that the mortgage giant had been manipulating its earnings through “cookie jar” accounting to justify payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to top executives.
In his 26-page testimony before the oversight office, Barnes detailed multiple Fannie Mae deviations from generally accepted accounting practices and his repeated efforts to bring the irregularities to a wide range of Fannie Mae managers and executives, all without positive result.
Barnes said he left Fannie Mae in October 2003 because he felt “forced out” once Fannie Mae excluded him from working on the office’s investigation.
“As a result of Fannie Mae’s refusals to take the concerns I had raised about financial and accounting practices seriously, and the retaliation I faced for raising these concerns, I had no choice to but to separate from the Company in October 2003,” Barnes said on page 25 of his written October 6, 2004, testimony to the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.
Barnes, an African-American, reportedly received a $1 million settlement after threatening a whistleblower lawsuit charging racial discrimination, according to USA Today.
WND also reported that despite having served as Fannie Mae chief executive officer, Raines was named in a housing scandal as one of the “Friends of Angelo” in a low-income-mortgage deal arranged by Angelo Mozilo, the former chief executive of the now-bankrupt subprime-mortgage broker Countrywide Financial Corp.
Raines was also a repeat customer at Countrywide while he was Fannie Mae chief executive, receiving four home loans between 1999 and 2003 totaling nearly $4 million.
One of Raines’ properties included a 98-year-old seven-bedroom stucco colonial with a pool, a movie theater and a shared tennis court, overlooking a national park.