Politics

Obama housing nominee: Most white people won’t vote for black candidate, should be excluded from ‘democratic process’

Photo of Patrick Howley
Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

President Obama’s pick to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency once said that a “majority of white voters” would never vote for a black candidate and that they should be excluded from “the democratic process.”

The White House announced Wednesday that Obama will nominate Democratic North Carolina Congressman Mel Watt to take over the FHFA, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the country’s government sponsored mortgage companies.

Watt, the former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, has in the past accused white Americans of racism.

“There would be a substantial majority of white voters who would say that under no circumstances would they vote for an African American candidate,” Watt said Oct. 14, 2005 during a Washington hearing held by the National Commission on the Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Act should be expanded to “adjust districts to take [racially motivated voting] into account,” Watts said.

Such voters “need to be factored out of the equation,” Watt said, because “I’ve got no use for them in the democratic process.”

According to a contemporaneous report of the hearing published by the Cybercast News Service, Watt said that black voters — unlike whites — don’t have “an absolute commitment” to voting for a candidate based on race.

“Black people have not had the luxury of being able to say, ‘Under no circumstances will I vote for a white candidate,’” Watt said in his remarks.

Obama would win 43 percent of the white vote in 2008 — the largest share for any Democrat in a two-man race since 1976 — along with 95 percent of the black vote.

In 2004, progressive independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader claimed that Watt hurled a “racial epithet” at him during Nader’s meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, which urged Nader to suspend his campaign and support John Kerry.

Nader alleged in a letter that Watt said, “You’re just another arrogant white man – telling us what we can do – it’s all about your ego – another f–king arrogant white man.” Nader demanded an apology from Watt.

Watt will replace acting director Ed DeMarco, who has served in that post since 2009. DeMarco has become a punching bag for the administration’s liberal critics who have hammered him for his unwillingness to enact principal reduction, which would reset many underwater Fannie and Freddie loans to fair-market value.

Principal reduction would reportedly provide disproportionate relief to minority homeowners.

In 2008, following the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, Watt said that a government task force should be established to combat racial discrimination in housing lending.

“[T]here needs to be a more coordinated approach to dealing with these issues of discrimination, failure to be fair in loan terms,” Watt said in June 12, 2008 remarks before the House Judiciary Committee.

Watts said that minorities were “disproportionately more” encouraged to take on subprime, rather than prime, loans by housing lenders.

“When you’re black, and you live in the world for 63 years, it is — I don’t need empirical evidence to tell me discrimination exists.”