Obama to nominate consumer protection chief

Richard CordrayPresident Obama has abandoned efforts to put Elizabeth Warren in charge of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau she helped create under last year’s financial industry reform laws, instead announcing he’ll try to promote the bureau’s “top cop,” former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.

The bureau is intended to be a watchdog for American consumers, ensuring they have the information they need to make wise financial choices and avoid abusive and deceptive practices.

“American families and consumers bore the brunt of the financial crisis and are still struggling in its aftermath to find jobs, stay in their homes, and make ends meet. That is why I fought so hard to pass reforms to fix the financial system and put in place the strongest consumer protections in our nation’s history,” the President said in a statement issued this morning. “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 CFPB and looking out for ordinary people in our financial system.”

Obama hadn’t nominated Warren as the bureau’s director because Republicans promised a filibuster; many in the GOP want the bureau’s purview rolled back even before its starts its work. Many liberals had urged Obama to call the Republicans’ bluff, and/or to make a recess appointment of Warren to the job.

In his statement today, the President thanked Warren “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. This agency was Elizabeth’s idea, and through sheer force of will, intelligence, and a bottomless well of energy, she has made, and will continue to make, a profound and positive difference for our country.”

Cordray became the bureau’s nascent chief of enforcement in January, right after leaving the Ohio Attorney General’s office. Before that, he had been Ohio’s Treasurer for two years and a county treasurer for four. Earlier yet, he was an adjunct professor at the Ohio State University College of Law from 1989 to 2002; Ohio’s first solicitor general from 1993 to 1994; an Ohio State Representative from 1991 to 1993; and an attorney in private practice from 1995 to 2007. He has argued seven cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including by special appointment of both the Clinton and Bush Justice Departments.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.