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From Banking and Finance Law Daily, July 19, 2018

Mixed reviews greet CFPB nominee Kraninger at confirmation hearing

By J. Preston Carter, J.D., LL.M.

"Under my stewardship, the Bureau will take aggressive action against bad actors who break the rules by engaging in fraud and other illegal activity," Kathleen Kraninger told the Senate Banking Committee in her opening statement at the committee’s confirmation hearing on her nomination as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. A White House fact sheet issued prior to the hearing claimed that "[y]ears of poor leadership have made the agency an ineffective, poor steward of Federal dollars," and stated that "Kraninger has the management skills and policy background necessary to reform and refocus the Bureau."

Senators’ opening statements. Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), in his opening statement, rejected a request by Senate Democrats to delay the hearing until requested documents were delivered by saying the documents pertain to "extraneous Administration policies that the requesters do not like, and go far beyond the practice of this committee’s document production." Crapo went on to express his confidence that Kraninger is "well-prepared to lead the Bureau in enforcing federal consumer financial laws and protecting consumers in the financial marketplace."

In his opening statement, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ranking Member of the Committee, said, "Kraninger has no experience whatsoever in consumer protection." Referring to Puerto Rico hurricane relief, U.S. housing policy, and recent immigration policy decisions, Brown said that, as Associate Director at the Office of Management and Budget, Kraninger "has been involved in the management of one disastrous policy after another."

Industry group’s support. In a letter to the committee, Rebeca Romero Rainey, President & CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said, "Kraninger has demonstrated her talent for agency management and policymaking oversight." Rainey also said she believes Kraninger "understands the critical role played by community banks in creating access to consumer and small business credit and supporting prosperity in American communities."

Consumer groups’ opposition. A number of consumer groups, however, oppose the nomination. According to a Consumers Union statement, "Acting director Mick Mulvaney has taken a wrecking ball to the CFPB," and the organization urged senators to "press Kraninger to spell out her plans for leading the CFPB and what she intends to do to ensure consumers are treated fairly by banks and other financial firms."

A Center for Responsible Lending press release stated that "Kraninger has had limited to no experience in protecting consumers," and calls her nomination "a political play for Mick Mulvaney to cement his anti-consumer agenda at the CFPB." Public Citizen said that "[w]ith no background in financial law, financial issues in general or consumer protection, Kraninger lacks the experience to be the nation’s leading guardian of consumers who face a jungle of financial predators." Finally, according to a U.S. PIRG release, Kraninger "lacks a track record protecting consumers in the financial marketplace."

Companies: Center for Responsible Lending; Consumers Union; Independent Community Bankers of America; Public Citizen; U.S. PIRG

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