CFPB Deserves a Clear Champion for Consumers at Its Helm
In July 2011, Richard Cordray–formerly an Ohio Attorney General and Ohio state representative– was nominated by President Barack Obama as director of the burgeoning Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
As Ohio AG, Cordray recovered more than $2 billion for consumers and earned a reputation as an aggressive consumer advocate, including earning the distinction of being the first attorney general to sue a mortgage lender over foreclosure fraud.
It would take another two years before Cordray was confirmed by the Senate. After being approved by the U.S. Senate Banking Committee in October 2011, Cordray’s confirmation was blocked by Republican senators who refused to bring his nomination to the floor for a vote. After a January 2012 recess appointment, then-director Cordray, despite his effort to be transparent, was not allowed to testify before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee. The Senate eventually confirmed Cordray in 2013.
Now, seven years later, the Trump Administration expects Ms. Kraninger’s confirmation process to be swift, despite her having a career record with zero ties to consumer protection or financial services. Instead, Ms. Kraninger’s proponents rely on a single argument in support of her confirmation. They claim she has solid management experience from her tenure at the Office of Management and Budget. While others rightfully are questioning her supporters’ argument, the public at large has little to go on, due to the nominee’s lack of transparency on her qualifications, record, and her positions on consumer protection and issues critical to running the CFPB.
Last month, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote a letter seeking information on Ms. Kraninger’s role in President Trump’s problematic family separation policy. It appears their requests for information have been ignored by the nominee. The senators wrote another letter this week — this time to Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)– noting that the nominee had failed to respond to any of their inquiries, and they requested a delay of the hearing as a result.
Meanwhile, Kraninger’s supporters in the Senate — Mike Rounds (R-SD), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.), all mentioned the need for transparency at the CFPB in their praise of the nominee.
If Ms. Kraninger is to deliver accountability and transparency at the bureau, she must begin now. Ms. Kraninger needs to be held to account for her role in OMB oversight of heavily-criticized federal programs. She must be transparent in the depth and relevance of her experience and positions on consumer finance.
Consumers deserve a CFPB director who is knowledgeable, experienced, transparent, and accountable. And if a nominee cannot prove herself as an advocate for making financial markets fair for American consumers now, there is no hope she will do so as CFPB director. Until Ms. Kraninger proves she embodies these traits, her confirmation must be stopped.