Strange Bedfellows Say Let Fannie and Freddie Live

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- "I don't know whether it's Ralph moving or me moving but we're finding ourselves more and more aligned these days."

The speaker was Ted Olson, partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, former solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration, and he was referring to Ralph Nader, the occasional Presidential candidate and storied consumer advocate.

What brought them together for a panel discussion on Wednesday was a shared belief that the U.S. Treasury Department needs to recognize the rights of shareholders in government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FMCC).

Olson is representing Perry Capital, a large hedge fund, in a lawsuit against the government, while Nader is a shareholder himself, representing what he says are just regular folks, "not day traders" who relied on government assurances that Fannie and Freddie were safe investments, before the GSEs were taken under government conservatorship at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008.

The status of Fannie and Freddie shareholders "is intimately related with affordable housing goals," Nader said. "These are very delicate institutions and if you don't have a capital market you're not going to have affordable housing."

But consumer and housing advocates who also sat on the panel seemed to have little interest in what happens to common and preferred shareholders in the GSEs.

"It's high cotton for me," said John Taylor, President and CEO of the nonprofit National Community Reinvestment Coalition, which seeks to "increase the flow of private capital into traditionally underserved communities," according to its website. "I'm not a hedge fund guy. They have their fight and they have their lawyers."

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