WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing today on the nomination of Richard Cordray to serve as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who is chair of the Committee’s panel on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection which has jurisdiction over the CFPB, introduced his fellow Ohioan at the hearing.
“Wall Street special interests and their allies in Congress have not expressed concerns about Rich Cordray’s qualifications or his performance during his first year at CFPB–which has received high marks from industry and consumer groups alike. Instead, they have taken the unprecedented action of blocking his nomination simply because they disagree with the existence of the Bureau. It’s critical that we put partisan politics aside and confirm Rich Cordray–consumers deserve a bureau with a confirmed director who can serve as a counterbalance to the Wall Street lobby.”
According to the Senate Historian, Republican objection to Director Cordray in 2011 was the first time in history that the minority party pledged to block a nominee simply because it opposed an agency’s very existence.
Congress created the CFPB in 2010 to help ensure the financial products and services that Americans depend on every day —including credit cards, mortgages, and loans—work better for the people who use them. In February, 43 Republican Senators sent a letter protesting the CFPB’s independence and vowing to oppose any nominee to lead the consumer protection agency. Later that month, 54 Democratic Senators sent the President a letter supporting the CFPB and Richard Cordray as its director.
Cordray currently serves as director at the CFPB, but his appointment will expire if the Senate does not confirm him by the end of the year. Cordray served as Attorney General of Ohio from January 2009 to January 2011. As Attorney General, Cordray recovered more than $2 billion for Ohio’s retirees, investors, and business owners and took major steps to help protect its consumers from fraudulent foreclosures and financial predators. Prior to his tenure as Ohio’s Attorney General, Cordray spent two years as Ohio’s State Treasurer and four as the Treasurer of Franklin County, Ohio. In 2008, he received a Financial Services Champion award from the U.S. Small Business Administration and a Government Service Award from NeighborWorks America. In 2005, he was named “County Leader of the Year” by American City & County Magazine.
Earlier in his career, Cordray was an adjunct professor at the Ohio State University College of Law (1989-2002), served as a State Representative for the 33rd Ohio House District (1991-1993), was the first Solicitor General in Ohio’s history (1993-1994), and was a sole practitioner and of counsel to Kirkland & Ellis (1995-2007). Cordray has argued seven cases before the United States Supreme Court, including by special appointment of both the Clinton and Bush Justice Departments. Cordray is a graduate of Michigan State University, Oxford University, and the University of Chicago Law School. He was editor-in-chief of the University of Chicago Law Review and later clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.
Full text of Sen. Brown’s introduction, as prepared for delivery, is below.
Thank you, Chairman Johnson and Ranking Member Crapo for allowing me to speak today not only as a member of this Committee, but as a former constituent of my fellow Ohioan, Richard Cordray.
In September 2011, at his previous confirmation hearing to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, it was my privilege to introduce Rich and his family. His wife, Peggy, and their twins Danny and Holly, are here today. I have known Rich for more than 30 years.
He is the son of a mother and father who both served as strong advocates for people with developmental disabilities. He was raised to advocate on behalf of people who – too often – were pushed to the margins of their communities. And during his service as Ohio’s State Treasurer and, later, Attorney General, he fought for Ohioans who struggled to stay in their homes.
Rather than stand up for fraudulent financial institutions, Rich stood up for middle-class families. As I said then, Rich has:
- the courage to take on unscrupulous actors,
- the diplomatic skills to work with banks to craft commonsense policies, and
- the conviction to be a diligent advocate for consumers.
He remains the right person to lead the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau. Under his leadership, the CFPB:
- helped servicemembers, veterans, and military families understand their benefits
- has helped students plan for their futures, and
- has helped baby-boomers plan for retirement.
It has already refunded some $425 million in refunds to consumers who were victims to fraudulent financial practices –and CFPB has handled more than 130,000 complaints from consumers in every state.
Of course, Rich will tell us about CFPB’s victories, but I would like to remind my colleagues that we cannot take the success of this institution for granted. We’ve already had our fight over the structure of the CFPB.
A bipartisan majority in the Senate created the CFPB in 2010 to help ensure that Americans have access to safe and transparent financial products and services – including credit cards and loans. But in the United States Senate, a vocal minority is pledging to hold up the appointment of a qualified nominee until it gets its way.
The legislation creating the CFPB is the law of the land, but some here want to nullify the legislation creating our nation’s consumer watchdog. No one has questioned Rich’s qualifications. He has been supported by CEOs of Ohio companies and won praise from Ohio bankers whom I’ve spoken with over the years.
But, for the first time in Senate history – and I asked the Senate historian about this – Senators are blocking a nominee because they don’t like the agency that he will lead. For CFPB to thrive, it must have sound leadership – a leader who is able to work with institutions and individuals to prevent insidious schemes from wrecking havoc on our economy.
Richard Cordray’s distinguished career – as a
- Supreme Court clerk,
- Ohio Solicitor General,
- Ohio Treasurer, and
- Ohio Attorney General –
shows that he is the right person for the job at the right time for our country. Now is the time to consider Rich Cordray’s qualifications, not keep fighting old battles. It is time to put this consumer cop on the beat.