July 15, 2024

Former Ohio Attorney General Picked to Lead Consumer Agency

Mr. Cordray came to national attention for his aggressive investigations of mortgage foreclosure practices while he was attorney general. He had already joined the watchdog agency, which starts formal operations on Thursday, as the leader of its enforcement division.

“Richard Cordray has spent his career advocating for middle-class families, from his tenure as Ohio’s attorney general to his most recent role as heading up the enforcement division at the C.F.P.B. and looking out for ordinary people in our financial system,” Mr. Obama said in a written statement. He will formally announce the nomination on Monday.

The decision to pass over Ms. Warren — who conceived the bureau, championed its creation and orchestrated its establishment for the last year as a White House adviser — reflects political realities.

Her candidacy was passionately supported by liberal members of Congress and consumer advocacy groups. But she never won the full support of the president or his senior advisers, particularly the Treasury Secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, in part because of her independence and outspokenness, which at times put her at odds with the administration.

Also, since last year Mr. Obama has been trying to rebuild relations with the business community after the fights early in his term over health care and financial regulations. And Republicans have vowed to block her nomination because they say that her criticisms of the banking industry showed a lack of fairness.

Putting a director in place is critical because the agency will not gain the full measure of its powers until the Senate confirms a nominee. The agency will be able to supervise the compliance of banks with existing laws, but the Dodd-Frank financial legislation that created the agency dictates that it cannot write new rules or supervise other financial companies without a director.

Republicans made clear on Sunday that they were no more likely to confirm Mr. Cordray than Ms. Warren. Forty-four Republican senators have signed a letter saying they would refuse to vote on any nominee to lead the bureau, demanding instead that Democrats agree to overhaul the agency’s management structure to replace a single leader with a board of directors.

“Until President Obama addresses our concerns by supporting a few reasonable structural changes, we will not confirm anyone to lead it,” Senator Richard Shelby, the Alabama Republican who is the ranking member on the Banking Committee, said Sunday in a written statement. “No accountability, no confirmation.”

That position was reiterated Sunday by a spokesman for the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who sent reporters a copy of the letter written by Senate Republicans. “The White House has not yet addressed the need to bring accountability and transparency to the bureau,” the spokesman, Don Stewart, said.

The administration has had little success in persuading the Senate to confirm nominees for a number of other financial regulatory posts, although several recent appointments are pending. Mr. Cordray joins a queue that includes the proposed leaders for two banking regulators, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and two board members for the Securities and Exchange Commission. About a dozen positions remain vacant.

Mr. Cordray did, however, receive a quick endorsement from Ms. Warren.

“Rich has always had my strong support because he is tough and he is smart — and that’s exactly the combination this new agency needs,” she said in a statement on Sunday. “His work and commitment have made it clear that he will make a stellar director.”

Some of Ms. Warren’s supporters also gave him a reluctant thumbs-up.

“Elizabeth Warren was the best qualified to lead this bureau that she conceived — and we imagine Richard Cordray would agree,” said Stephanie Taylor, a consumer advocate who led an online campaign that collected 350,000 signatures on a petition calling for the president to nominate Ms. Warren. “That said, Rich Cordray has been a strong ally of Elizabeth Warren’s, and we hope he will continue her legacy of holding Wall Street accountable.”

Mr. Obama devoted many more words in his written statement to Ms. Warren than to Mr. Cordray, thanking her “not only for her extraordinary work standing up the new agency over the past year, but also for her many years of impassioned leadership, and her fierce defense of a simple idea: Ordinary people deserve to be treated fairly and honestly in their financial dealings.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=ff7b1fed84c4b1befdb7bc64c826eb36

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