Fannie Mae has launched a Web site to challenge a consumer lobbying group aimed at keeping Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's interests in check.

The Web site, known as FM Watch Observer (www.fmwatch-observer.com) is aimed to do battle with the lobbying group, known as FM Watch (www.fmwatch.org).

FM Watch is a consumer watchdog group that formed in June to dedicate its time to ensure that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac keep the interests of homebuyers and taxpayers above the interests of their investors.

The site, launched Nov. 23, was the brainchild of a group of younger employees at Fannie Mae who were "fed up with all the FM Watch stuff," said David Jeffers, vice president for corporate relations at Fannie Mae. "They said they'd like to do a Web site to respond and we said, we'll see what you come up with.'"

Jeffers said the Web site is "cute" and has some humor to it. It was put up because "a lot of their feelings was that they [FM Watch] were getting away with something they ought to not get away with, which is misrepresenting themselves and tried to tell it like it is."

However, those at FM Watch see the site as sweet talk. "We think imitation is the highest form of flattery," said Mike House, executive director at FM Watch. "It is amazing to us that Fannie is spending the time, energy and money to do something like this concerning an organization they consistently claim they're not worried about."

However, Jeffers noted that many members at Fannie Mae are not worried about FM Watch.

"Not a lot of people at the management level worry too much about FM Watch, because we see them for what they are, which is angry about profits being taken out of their pockets and put in the pockets of consumers." He even went so far as to call FM Watch "the coalition for higher mortgage costs" on the Web site.

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