Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Former Democratic power broker James A. Johnson dies at 76
AP

Former Democratic power broker James A. Johnson dies at 76

  • Updated
  • 0
Former Democratic power broker James A. Johnson dies at 76

This Sept. 18, 1990 file photo shows James A. Johnson, left, after being elected by the board of directors to be the new chief executive officer of Fannie May succeeding David O. Maxwell, at right. Johnson, a former Democratic campaign operative who was CEO of housing lender Fannie Mae in the 1990s and served as chairman of Walter Mondale's presidential bid, died Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020 at his home in Washington. He was 76.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — James A. Johnson, a former Democratic campaign operative who was CEO of housing lender Fannie Mae in the 1990s and served as chairman of Walter Mondale's presidential bid, died Sunday at his home in Washington. He was 76.

Johnson's son, Alfred, confirmed that his father had died, telling The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that the cause was complications from a neurological condition.

A native of Benson, Minnesota, and the son of a prominent state lawmaker, Johnson had a political, cultural and business resume that prompted Harold M. Ickes, President Bill Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, to dub him “the chairman of the universe.” Johnson chaired the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Brookings Institution think tank and Fannie Mae all at the same time.

Besides running Mondale's failed run for the White House against Ronald Reagan in 1984, Johnson was a key player in the presidential campaigns of Eugene McCarthy, Edmund Muskie and George McGovern.

He turned his political savvy into business success. David O. Maxwell, former head of Fannie Mae, hired Johnson as vice chairman in 1990, after Johnson had helped the company hold off privatization efforts by the Reagan administration. Johnson was promoted to chairman and CEO the next year.

Johnson immediately set his sights on maintaining Fannie Mae’s lucrative government privileges and ensuring that new regulations were not overly burdensome. Johnson and his lobbyists helped fashion a 1992 law signed by President George H.W. Bush that aimed to reduce the chance of an expensive taxpayer bailout if Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had bad loans on their books.

It also opened up a new era of home ownership for families who were previously unable to get mortgage loans.

After retiring from Fannie Mae at the end of 1998, Johnson served on the boards of several companies, including UnitedHealth Group, KB Home and Target, and was vice chairman of the Washington private-equity firm Perseus. He had chaired the advisory council of the Stanford Center on Longevity since 2011.

For copyright information, check with the distributor of this item, The Washington Post.

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

The best local coverage, unlimited

Sign up for a digital subscription to The Press of Atlantic City now and take advantage of a great offer.

LEARN MORE

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Soon we will no longer integrate with Facebook for story comments. The commenting option is not going away, however, readers will need to register for a FREE site account to continue sharing their thoughts and feedback on stories. If you already have an account (i.e. current subscribers, posting in obituary guestbooks, for submitting community events), you may use that login, otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News