Hensarling Endorses McWatters for CFPB Director
House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) is encouraging President Trump to nominate NCUA Chairman J. Mark McWatters as the next CFPB director.
“As someone who has known Mark McWatters for years and who is keenly aware of the challenges and threats that abound at the CFPB, I can think of few better equipped to serve as its director,” Hensarling said. “Having worked closely with Mark in the past, I know him to be incredibly smart, a real free market conservative and an effective reformer. Mark has my utmost confidence and I encourage President Trump to nominate him.”
Hensarling, who is retiring from the House, has been mentioned as a possible CFPB director to replace Richard Cordray, who resigned to run for Ohio governor. Trump selected Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as the acting director, although that appointment is being challenged in federal court.
Hensarling has been a longtime critic of the CFPB. His Financial CHOICE Act would eliminate the agency’s supervisory powers.
McWatters, a Texan, is a former counsel on Hensarling’s staff. Hensarling recently announced that Kirsten Sutton Mork, the Financial Services Committee’s staff director, would become CFPB chief-of-staff.
McWatters also has been a critic of CFPB oversight of credit unions. He wrote a letter to Cordray last year saying that credit unions should be exempt from more CFPB regulations.
If Trump nominates McWatters, it would leave Rick Metsger as the lone member of the CFPB board. Metsger is a Democrat whose term expired last year.
The shuffle could result in the NCUA being governed by three new board members.
The banking community has criticized the possible choice of McWatters to head the CFPB. Camden Fine, president/CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America, has criticized the NCUA as a “cheerleader” for the credit union industry and questioned whether McWatters would be fair to banks if he became CFPB chief.
Breitbart News, the conservative news organization, earlier this week published a story that was highly critical of McWatters and questioned his qualifications for the job.
McWatters has not publicly discussed the possibility he might be nominated.
However, NCUA spokesman John Fairbanks did respond to the highly critical Breitbart story noting McWatters’s education and experience.
“Since his appointment to the Board, Chairman McWatters has strongly and consistently advocated for regulatory relief and greater agency transparency, keeping paramount the safety and soundness of America’s credit union system,” Fairbanks said. “His record has shown that, by working in a bipartisan manner, the best ideas on modernizing regulation and providing relief prevail. His efforts have resulted in a re-structuring and consolidation of the agency and a thoughtfully targeted regulatory approach that provides credit unions with a greater opportunity to serve America’s credit union members.”