Kellerman: the Scapegoat of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Editor’s note: HousingWire is receiving numerous responses to the tragic passing of David Kellerman, acting CFO of Freddie Mac. Many sound a similar chord to the perceived uneven treatment of his death in the mainstream media. One such opinion is published here, written by an industry veteran who wishes to remain anonymous. It is not reflective of the opinions or objectives of the HousingWire editorial staff, and represents a third party submission. How did you feel when you heard that David Kellerman, acting CFO of Freddie Mac, allegedly committed suicide yesterday morning? I wondered what could possibly make a successful family man resort to taking his life. In following coverage of this event, I viewed some reader comments on [a national news network] about the story. Theories of political intrigue, plots and payback abound. According to many of these comments, every single thing that happens to us is because of outside forces; everything we do has some ulterior motive. Sometimes not everything is about politics. Sometimes it’s about right and wrong. When something like this happens, human nature dictates that we think the victim (yes, he is a victim) was guilty of something; that he took the ultimate way out to keep from getting caught. We read that Mr. Kellerman recently received an $800,000 bonus, and that he had hired a security company to guard his house. We learn that reporters had been dogging him for comments about whether he deserved the bonus in view of Freddie Mac’s recent poor performance. But buried in all the hype, after I managed to extricate myself from those disturbing comments about conspiracies and punishment, I found a Washington Post article that reported: “Kellermann has figured in several recent controversies at Freddie Mac. He and a group of company lawyers tussled with the company’s regulator in early March as the firm prepared to file its quarterly disclosure. The group insisted that Freddie Mac disclose the $30 billion cost to the company of carrying out the Obama administration’s housing recovery plan, but the regulator urged the company not to do so. Freddie Mac employees argued they had a legal obligation to disclose the information and would have to get the Securities and Exchange Commission, which oversees such disclosures, to sign off if they didn’t. The regulator backed down.” Did you read this carefully? Do you get it? This isn’t the story of a guy who was trying to cover something up. It’s the story of a guy who was trying to do the right thing. If the information is correct, Kellerman and his cohorts insisted on reporting Freddie Mac’s financial status as they believed it should be represented, disclosing all of its obligations. It sounds like they were able to get the regulators to agree, but at what price? Who knows what machinations took place during those struggles, and who knows what the aftermath was/will be like, for Freddie Mac and for Mr. Kellerman personally? Could it be that this guy, David Kellerman, was just trying to do his job to the best of his abilities, embracing the ethics and spirit of financial accounting as well as the technical requirements? Could it be that, rather than having something to hide, rather than feeling guilty about his bonus, he simply could no longer tolerate the grinding of the giant gears that continually attempt to convince the public, us taxpayers, that everything will be all right and that our government has everything under control? Not everything has political undercurrents. Sometimes it’s just about right and wrong and trying to do your job. I don’t know what Mr. Kellerman’s feelings were at the time he allegedly took his life. I have no inside (or other) information about his job performance, or about his history with Freddie Mac. I do know that if he had worked there since 1992 – he was 25 when he started – he saw massive changes come to what was probably the only company he ever worked for. It’s possible that, in the end, he just couldn’t stand to see the company he loved be eviscerated.

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