The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the highly controversial centerpiece of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, is still struggling to assume its full regulatory authority. Without a confirmed director, the CFPB cannot extend its oversight to non-bank consumer lenders.
In response to criticism for withholding their confirmation, Republicans insist that "...the objection isn't to any particular nominee. Rather, the concern is with the lack of transparency and accountability at the CFPB."
In this case however, an objection to the particular nominee Richard Cordray may be warranted. Trial Lawyers Inc.: Attorneys General, a new report released by Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy, identifies Cordray among the greatest allies to the plaintiffs' bar while serving as Ohio's Attorney General. In a separate article, James Copland, the author of this report and director of the Center for Legal Policy, cites $830,000 that Cordray received from out-of-state plaintiffs' firms while during his term parceling out at least six lawsuits on a contingency-fee basis.
Those Senate Republicans critical of the potentially broad and vague authority of the CFPB as evidenced by its 802 page regulatory manual would be justified in objecting to the appointment of a nominee with Cordray's record. The CFPB might very well be in need of reforms to its leadership structure, transparency and general authority, but, the unsuitability of a nominee for the director position is at the very least relevant to making the case for withholding a confirmation to that nominee.
In the meantime, the CFPB has certainly ramped up its efforts to convince the public and legislators of the severity of the gridlock in the Senate. Political opponents and critics however, seem to be unwilling to comply with the administration until their concerns are addressed.