Consumer bureau nominee Richard Cordray backed by 37 state AGs
Attorneys general from 37 states and U.S. territories urged senators to confirm the nomination of their former colleague, Richard Cordray, to be the first director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The nomination of Cordray, Ohio's attorney general from 2009 to 2011, has been stalled in the Senate because of Republican demands for major changes in the structure of the agency. But the attorneys general -- including eight Republicans -- urged senators to vote for Cordray because he is "both brilliant and balanced."
"Some of us may disagree with aspects of the Dodd-Frank legislation," they wrote in a letter Tuesday on the letterhead of the National Assn. of Attorneys General. "But we are united in our belief that Mr. Cordray is very well qualified to carry out the responsibilities of this position."
One of the Republicans who signed the letter, Utah Atty. Gen. Mark Shurtleff, said it was important to get a director confirmed who could start working with states on mortgages and other key issues.
"We need Rich Cordray in there," Shurtleff told reporters on a conference call organized by the White House. "He knows us, knows how to work with us."
The Senate Banking Committee approved Cordray's nomination this month on a 12-10 party line vote. This spring, nearly all Senate Republicans -- enough to keep the nomination from moving forward -- publicly vowed to block any nominee to head the agency unless the Obama administration agreed to water down its power by making some key changes.
For example, the Republicans want to replace the agency's single director with a five-member, bipartisan commission and subject its annual budget to the appropriations process.
Republicans have said they have no particular problem with Cordray, but simply want the consumer bureau to be more accountable.
Brian Deese, deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, told reporters that the letter showed Cordray was highly qualified and that Senate Republicans should stop blocking his confirmation to a job that is crucial to the financial reform law enacted last year.
"The creation of a single agency that could look out for consumers was unique and significant, but in order to make good on the promise of that legislation and that idea we need to put a confirmed director in place," Deese said. "There just simply is no reason why we shouldn’t move forward."
-- Jim Puzzanghera
Photo: Richard Cordray at his Senate confirmation hearing in September. Credit: Getty Images