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GOP challenger blasts Bean on mortgage legislation
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff

Melissa Bean

 

Steve Greenberg

 

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Published: 10/24/2008 12:03 AM | Updated: 10/24/2008 7:32 AM

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Republican congressional candidate Steve Greenberg blasted Rep. Melissa Bean on Thursday for pushing legislation he said weakened proposed regulations on two key players in the troubled mortgage industry.

Greenberg claimed Bean's proposal, an amendment she co-authored in May 2007 with Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas, essentially scuttled a proposed mortgage reform bill that would have increased oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - government-sponsored companies at the heart of the current mortgage crisis.

During a media conference call Thursday, Greenberg accused Bean of proposing the amendment on behalf of Freddie Mac and other financial firms that have contributed to her political campaigns.

"She is willing to stand against her constituents for the good of special interests," Greenberg said.

Bean spokesman Jonathan Lipman said he didn't see the controversy. Contrary to Greenberg's claims, the amendment would have further strengthened oversight of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, he said.

"The primary force behind this economic crisis was the irresponsible and risky lending practices of unregulated mortgage originators, who put people into loans and homes they couldn't afford," Lipman said.

Bean has strongly advocated legislation that would stop such practices, Lipman said.

Bean, a Barrington resident who serves on the House financial services committee, is seeking a third term representing the 8th District in the House. Greenberg, a business owner and former athlete from Long Grove, is making his first bid for public office.

The White House opposed the Bean/Neugebauer amendment, but the add-on passed the House with an overwhelming, bipartisan majority.

Proponents of the amendment said it would have given the government the same regulatory power over Freddie and Fannie it has over banks.

With the amendment attached, the reform bill died in the Senate. Similar legislation, without the Bean/Neugebauer changes, became law this summer after the housing crisis worsened.

Because of the amendment to the failed bill, Greenberg blamed Bean and her ties to the mortgage giants for the ongoing financial crisis.

"A lot of this could've been avoided had we not had Melissa Bean in Congress," he said.

Greenberg has consistently hammered at Bean's campaign funding sources, particularly the political action committees representing financial-industry firms that have backed her.

"How can you regulate people that are giving you the very funding you need to run (campaign) commercials?" he said.

Bean has dramatically outraised Greenberg over the course of the campaign. raking in nearly $3 million through Sept. 30 compared to Greenberg's $833,000.

Bean's campaign has refused to comment on the candidates' most recent fundraising reports.

The 8th District includes parts of Cook, Lake and McHenry counties.