President Obama nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to be head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray had been appointed to the CFPB’s enforcement division by Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who has been designing the CFPB and was actively considered to be its director.
Obama said in a statement that he was picking Cordray because he 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 CFPB and looking out for ordinary people in our financial system.”
Cordray’s appointment may be delayed, pending negotiations regarding the Bureau’s governance.
While some Senate Republicans have criticized Warren specifically, they also have said they wouldn’t confirm anyone to run the CFPB unless the Obama administration agrees to make certain changes in how the bureau is run. Republicans are pushing to have it run by a five-person board, whose members are nominated by the president, rather than have all powers vested in the director, as is currently the case.
The CFPB, an independent agency housed in the Federal Reserve, will only have direct supervisory authority over financial institutions of $10 billion or more in assets but all financial institutions must comply with its regulations.
Cordray fought a number of high visibility cases against mortgage servicers during his tenure as Ohio Attorney General. As the bureau’s Chief of Enforcement, consumer lending practices were clearly and area of focus. Mortgage, credit card, and other lending products are likely to continue as areas of early interest for the CFPB.