Some questions just need to be asked. Especially when they involve, oh, $700 billion or so of taxpayer dollars that will be largely used to buy up mortgage-related assets and prop up banks. That question right now is: who the *&?# is EnnisKnupp? We're asking because the Chicago-based consulting firm won the Treasury's bidding for an investment adviser, out of just three firms that put in bids (who were the other two?). The U.S. government put out an RFP to six firms, so three declined the opportunity -- who were they? A quick look at the firm's Web site suggests it knows people in high places -- 59 retainer clients with aggregate assets of over $820 billion is nothing to sneeze at, to be sure -- but to be blunt, nary a soul in the mortgage banking industry knows who this firm is. They aren't on any league tables we've seen, incl. those at Investment Dealers Digest. Which means we should all probably be asking: which clients, and what sort of assets? It doesn't appear any of that consulting work directly involved mortgages or mortgage-related assets. And we've asked some of our most trusted sources, too -- people at BofA, RBS, UBS, Citi, Wells, Morgan Stanley, and others. Senior people. Very senior people, the sort of people that never get quoted on the record. All of them mortgage industry giants and investment gurus with a couple hundred years of experience between them. The fact seems to be that nobody that actually works in the mortgage biz in either the primary or secondary markets really has much of a read on EnnisKnupp, let alone having ever heard of them. And yet it is EnnisKnupp that will, according to the Treasury, evaluate asset managers and loan servicing corporations. It is EnnisKnupp that will determine who gets the Treasury's business, to a large degree. Which means that a firm nobody has ever heard of, that ostensibly has no history in mortgage banking, will be responsible for determining potentially the competitive fate of a large part of the mortgage banking industry -- whether we're talking securities or whole loans. That's one way to avoid conflicts of interest, we suppose. But we're hearing all sorts of rumors about who the firm might indirectly be connected to as well. Should any of those firms actually get a contract, we'll spill the dirt. We're looking for some answers here. If you want to comment on deep background, email