Housing regulator Watt under investigation for alleged sexual harassment

Housing regulator Watt under investigation for alleged sexual harassment
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Mel WattMelvin (Mel) Luther WattReport finds federal housing agency official 'abused her authority' Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform should put American taxpayers first Watchdog: Former Rep. Mel Watt attempted to 'coerce' employee into relationship MORE, who oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is being investigated for allegedly sexually harassing an employee at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

The female staffer at the agency accused the former North Carolina lawmaker and head of the FHFA of making inappropriate sexual advances during meetings to discuss career and salary concerns, Politico reported.


Watt acknowledged the investigation, said he was confident he would be exonerated and  said he would have no further comment while it was ongoing. 

"The selective leaks related to this matter are obviously intended to embarrass or to lead to an unfounded or political conclusion," Watt said in an e-mail.

"However, I am confident that the investigation currently in progress will confirm that I have not done anything contrary to law," he said.

"I will have no further comment while the investigation is in progress."

Watt was appointed in 2014 by former President Obama to lead the agency, which has been under government control since the financial crisis of 2008. 

In April 2016, Watt and the woman had a conversation while driving to a Washington restaurant.

“Well, you probably want to know what I wanted to talk to you about,” Watt said, according to documents Politico obtained. "I mentioned to you there is an attraction here that I think needs to be explored. In my experience there are four types of attraction: emotional, spiritual, sexual or of friendship. So, the exercise here is to find out which one exists here.”

The woman tried to stop Watt.

"If I gave you that impression in any way, that was not intentional,” she said. "My impression was that you wanted to discuss the work-related items I’ve been talking to [a superior] about. But, if that’s not the case, then I think I should take you back to FHFA. Because I don’t want any confusion here."

In another transcript, Watt expressed interest in kissing the staffer's ankle tattoo.

"Is that what we’re here to talk about?” the employee asked. "Because I already told you I don’t want to have conversations like that with you.”

“No, no," he said, and then moved the conversation to back to business.

This post was updated at 5:55 p.m.