Watt His Confirmation Chances Are

MAY 3, 2013 5:22pm ET

WE’RE HEARING that the deck is stacked against Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., and his chances of being confirmed by the Senate and sworn in as the new GSE regulator are 100-to-1 at best.

But the man from Charlotte has served 20 years in the House of Representatives and on the banking committee.

He is well respected, articulate and smart. So it doesn’t make sense for Watt to play the fall guy.

A few sources say it is too early to tell if he will be confirmed as the new Federal Housing Finance Agency director.

One source thinks it will depend on how he handles the questioning by the senators during his confirmation hearing.

President Obama’s first choice to fill the FHFA post and replace acting director Edward DeMarco didn’t fare well. He stumbled when pressed on the issue of principal reduction and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., called the nominee a “lackey” for the Obama administration.

On hearing Watt’s nomination, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., issued a statement saying he couldn’t be “more disappointed by this nomination” due to  the congressman’s past support for the GSEs.

“This gives new meaning to the adage that the fox is guarding the hen house,” Corker said.

Most witnesses before the Senate Banking Committee generally ignore Corker’s insults because the senator does not stop talking and acts as some of his barbs are harmless.

Republican leaders want to keep the confirmation hearing focused on policy issues—winding down the GSEs and their opposition to principal reduction on underwater mortgages.

As a lawyer, Watt is very good at the give and take that generally goes on in committee when members are debating controversial issues.

If they get tired fencing with the nominee, they may be tempted to bring up Watt’s affiliation with Fannie executives and campaign contributions he received from the giant mortgage company. But that was almost 10 years ago.

Now the GSEs are in conservatorship and under the boot of a strong regulator. Watt is going to have to show that he can be a strong regulator.

MOST READ/EMAILED: Bonnie Sinnock’s piece on the final LO comp rule was the most read content on our site this week. Completing a distaff sweep, Kate Berry’s piece on banks holding properties off the market was the most emailed.

HOTTEST BLOG: Garth Graham’s reflections on the Tweet that shook the world (the fake one about the White House being attacked) and implications for your own little company white house. He’s saying it can take only 140 characters to get your company fried (and the apology never gets the same attention). Time for some good old-fashioned social media regulation? Already here, he says.

OH THOSE CRAZY VINERS: Speaking of Tweets, Mortgage Grapevine regular Donktard Borker is getting some love from us for an inspired condensation of ALL the day’s news headlines into 140 characters: “Obama gets low grade rat meat at NRA convention threatened by wildfire...” Leave him some love here.

SHOUT OUT: Wisconsin-based Inlanta Mortgage has hired 11 new employees since February, including four new loan originators and seven support staff. They get our Shout Out this week for helping banish the tepid economic recovery by hiring at least ten net new hires. The firm said on the sales side, loan officer David Brussat joined the Janesville, Wis., branch. Loan officers Cindy Breternitz and Stephanie Gador joined the Overland Park, Kan., team, while loan officer Laura Schamberger went to the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, office. The Ocala, Fla., branch added processor Lori Meaney and the Indianapolis South branch hired Amy Walters as an administrative loan officer assistant. In Marshfield, Wis., Rachelle Bottlemy joined as a junior processor and Joel Viterna was added in Overland Park as a mortgage planner. The corporate office in Brookfield also added three new employees to its team. Junior processor Linda Sarandos joined the central processing department and loan coordinator Alysia Berg joined the administrative department. Underwriting also welcomed Roxanne Paulin.

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