Ralph Nader Discusses Fannie and Freddie Shareholder Fight

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) --Storied consumer advocate and occasional third party presidential candidate Ralph Nader owns shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac , and has criticized the government for ignoring the rights of shareholders since putting the government sponsored enterprises into conservatorship in 2008. Along with deep-pocketed investors such as Perry Capital and Fairholme Funds, Nader has been arguing the government needs to recognize the rights of shareholders, instead of sending all the profits of the GSEs to the Treasury, aside from minimal capital buffers.

Nader spoke to TheStreet senior writer Dan Freed this week to elaborate on his position.

TheStreet: Shareholders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have filed about 20 different lawsuits against the government. Have you?

Ralph Nader: No. We haven't. We've been on this GSE on different matters for over 25 years. The first interest was were they fulfilling their mission of advancing affordable housing for lower income people, which is one of the reasons why they were given a privileged position and their charter. And so we had maps of cities all over the country, redlining maps, and we concluded that they weren't doing what they were supposed to be doing or even what they were bragging about doing. That was the first.

The second entry subject was a little later when they messed around with the accounting to increase the stock options and compensation of their top executives, and their heavy-handed lobbying at Capital Hill.

And then the third was the whole 2008-2009 conservatorship.