The board of directors of the Federal National Mortgage Association has voted 11-to-1 to reject a recommendation for the resignation of Oakley Hunter, chairman of the board and president of the Washington based, privately owned corporation that holds more than $33 billion of home mortgages.
A spokesperson for Fannie Mac announced yesterday that the defeated motion by Julian H. Zimmerman also called for the resignations of Lester P. Condon and Robert Bennett, both executive vice presidents of FNMA.
The Zimmerman recommendation was made in a lengthy criticism of FNMA management in which he charged specifically that some vital policy issues were withheld from the board; the sense and direction of the board were ignored when management disagreed and that an effective working relationship with governmental regulatory authority had not been achieved.
The reference to "governmental regulatory authority" means the Department of Housing and Urban Development, whose secretary, Patricia R. Harris, recently informed FNMA by letter that "it is essential that I review your proposed (underwriting and appraisal) standards prior to their publication to determine their consistency with the housing policies this administration intends to pursue."
Another October letter from Harris, released yesterday by Fannie Mac, stated HUD disapproval of the corporation's proposed program for the purchase of conventional mortgages on two-to-four-family dwellings until certain changes are made and then re-submitted for her approval.
Activity to oust Hunter from his $130,000-range post for which he has a contract extending until 1980 has been under way for months. There also has been a legislative move by Democratic Senators Alan Cranston (Calif.) and William Proxmire (Wis.) to add four more Presidentially appointed members (there now are five) to the 15-person FNMA board. Action on the bill has been delayed in the wake of opposition by housing, real estate, banking and mortgage groups.
Hunter, 61, was hospitalized last May by a heart irregularity but was back at his desk in July. Since that time there has been renewed talk in housing mortgage fields about persons seeking to succeed him. Among those mentioned are Zimmerman, 60, a Republican head of an investing firm in Texas and a shareholder-elected member of the FNMA board, and Raymond H. Lapin, a San Francisco mortgage banker, democrat and board member.
Lapin served in Hunter's post until Richard Nixon became President in 1969, before Fannie Mae was publicly owned and before it was split off from HUD.Lapin reluctantly acceded to Nixon's request for resignation. Then Hunter, a former Republican Congressman from California, was appointed to the post.
When asked to comment yesterday concerning the pressures to unseat him, Hunter replied cooly:
"Fannie Mae is an ingenious creation of the Congress and has operated free of partisan politics and has done tremendous things for housing. It should be left alone and not put back under government control." He added that FNMA "should not be made a political football by either Republicans or Democrats."
A check of old newspaper clippings showed that Zimmerman succeded Hunter as general counsel of the Housing and Home Finance Agency (the predecessor of HUD) in 1957.