#SwampFiles: A $250,000 Chandelier

Government-owned mortgage financier blowing millions on new D.C. headquarters …

Remember Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?  They’re the government-owned mortgage finance behemoths absorbed by the federal government during the 2008 financial crisis (and bailed out by taxpayers to the tune of $187.5 billion).

Fannie and Freddie have paid that money back (with interest) but the next bailout is always right around the corner … in fact, a report released two months ago revealed these two “companies” could require as much as $100 billion from taxpayers in the event there is another recession.

This week the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) – the agency which issued that dire projection – published another report that will make taxpayers’ skin crawl.

According to an FHFA audit uncovered by reporter Elizabeth Harrington of The Washington Free Beacon, Fannie Mae has spent $32 million on questionable costs associated with its new $171 million headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C.

This facility – scheduled to open next June – was supposed to cost $115 million when it was first announced two years ago.  Why is it more than $56 million over budget?

According to Harrington’s report, the agency is blowing millions of taxpayer dollars on high-end design items – including $2.5 million for “veneer finishes,” $2 million for a glass walkway, $1.2 million for “decorative wood slatted ceilings,” decorative wood “lunch huts,” and pergolas, or garden-style pavilions, in elevator lobbies.

Oh, and there’s a $250,000 chandelier that no one at the agency apparently knew about …

“You are making K Street law firms and lobby shops jealous,” congressman Bill Huizenga of Michigan told agency officials during a hearing of the U.S. House financial services committee.

Indeed …

Bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. (and in government offices across the country) habitually indulge lavish expenditures like this.

Why?  Because to them, it’s “other people’s money.”

Indulgences like this are inappropriate for any government agency – let alone one that is usurping a function of the private sector.  Of course Fannie Mae leaders claimed their luxurious cost overruns were justifiable because they were “in line with corporate America.”

That’s the true scandal here …



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