'Cheerleader' McWatters Doesn't Belong as CFPB Chief: Community Bankers
President Trump should not nominate NCUA Chairman J Mark McWatters as CFPB director because the credit union board has been a “cheerleader” rather than a regulator while he has been a member, community bankers said Thursday.
“The CFPB should not be led by the head of an agency that has acted as a cheerleader for the industry under its oversight,” Camden Fine, president of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said. “Rather, it requires an even-handed official with experience in the broader commercial banking sector.”
CU Times reported last week that Trump is seriously considering nominating McWatters as CFPB director.
Fine said the CFPB would be better served “by individuals who have hands-on experience overseeing commercial banks and are familiar with the full array of regulations under which every commercial bank must toil.”
An NCUA spokesperson said the agency had no comment concerning Fine’s statement.
The CFPB director position has been open since Richard Cordray resigned to run for governor of Ohio. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has been serving as acting director.
Immediately before resigning, Cordray designated Leandra English as deputy director. English has filed suit in federal court contending that she, not Mulvaney should head the agency.
Sources said that McWatters might be more easily confirmed by the Senate, since he already has been confirmed as an NCUA board meeting.
And Breitbart News, which has been closely aligned with the Trump Administration has termed McWatters a “politically safe” choice.
McWatters also might be more acceptable to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the staunchest defender of the bureau in the Senate. The two served together on a congressional oversight board overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
“I was on the panel during the time that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was the chair and I worked very well with her,” McWatters told CU Times in 2015.
The McWatters choice could throw the NCUA board into disarray, since it would leave Democrat Rick Metsger as the only board member. And Metsger’s term expired last year; he may continue to serve until a replacement is nominated.
Meanwhile, the maneuvering that led to Cordray choosing English to head the agency is coming under congressional scrutiny.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has asked the Office of the Special Counsel to investigate English’s transfer from OMB to the CFPB toward the end of the Obama administration.
Johnson said that the transfer allowed English to go from a political appointee, who could be easily removed to a career employee.
Many administrations have come under fire in the past for a similar practice, known as “burrowing.”
In a letter Thursday to Special Counsel Henry Kerner, Johnson alleged that the Office of Personnel Management rushed the approval of English’s transfer and failed to use proper procedures in doing so.