Jan. 31, 2011
Associated Press

Arizona Republic

WASHINGTON – A leading Republican lawmaker is asking regulators to explain why taxpayers have spent more than $160 million in legal fees to defend the giant mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their former top executives.

The legal fees have accrued since the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008.

Republican congressman Darrell Issa, who heads the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wants the Federal Housing Finance Agency to provide documents backing up its decision to cover the legal costs. His office released a letter to the agency on Monday.

The housing companies nearly went under in 2008 but were rescued by the federal government at a cost, so far, of about $150 billion. The firms and their former executives face lawsuits accusing them of fraud.