Obama Nominates Richard Cordray as Director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Elizabeth Warren for Senate Buzz Will Only Intensify

The White House announced Sunday President Obama’s intention to nominate former Ohio Attorney General and currrent Chief of Enforcement at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as that body’s first director:

“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. 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 said.

“I also want to thank Elizabeth 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.”

While some on the left have suggested anyone other than Warren–a darling of the progressive movement for her eloquent, aggressive advocacy on behalf of consumers–would be unacceptable at the head of the CFPB, it is hard to see Cordray’s nomination being derailed for that reason; much more likely is a Republican filibuster, as that caucus has determined that the Dodd/Frank Wall Street Reform law of 2010 gives the government “too much” power to protect us from bad behavior at banks and financial institutions.

Indeed, while many will be disappointed to see Warren not lead her brainchild (she provided the intellectual foundation for and as a special advisor to the president has done most of the legwork in creating the CFPB), the nomination of Cordray does leave her open to run for Senate against Scott Brown in Massachussetts next year. Her schedule has only increased the buzz:

In recent weeks, Warren has met in person or spoke on the phone with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, David Axelrod, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Massachusetts Democratic Reps. Barney Frank, Stephen Lynch and John Tierney. The phone call with Murray took place in early June, Roll Call has learned. Warren attended a community banking event with Tierney in the Bay State and dined with Schumer, a former DSCC chairman and an aggressive recruiter who remains involved in DSCC activities.

Warren’s May calendar, the most recently available public schedule, shows the Schumer dinner along with the other meetings and discussions.

Given that Warren is leading the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB business could, of course, have been the lone agenda item during these meetings. But for a woman some national Democrats and liberal activists are hoping will take on Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) — a prime target in 2012 — her calendar alludes that she has at least been examining the possibility of a run.

Of course, Scott Brown voted for the Dodd/Frank law, one of just a few Republicans to do so. Warren would need a tightly focused campaign message that accounts for Brown’s relative independence vis-a-vis the national Republican Party.


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