GOP accused of 'playing games' with Cordray's nomination

Jessica M. Karmasek Sep. 6, 2011, 12:15pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson says Republicans are "playing games" in holding up former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray's nomination to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

POLITICO obtained a copy of testimony Johnson planned to give Tuesday.

"The purpose of today's hearing should be to consider whether Mr. Cordray is qualified for (the) job... Instead, a vocal minority is playing games with the process and holding Mr. Cordray's nomination hostage," Johnson says in the testimony.

The banking chairman points directly to the GOP.

"This political gamesmanship is preventing Americans from receiving the consumer protections they deserve and putting community banks and credit unions at a competitive disadvantage to non-bank financial companies," Johnson said.

Cordray's confirmation has been postponed since July, when he was nominated by President Barack Obama.

The banking committee had a hearing scheduled last month but delayed it until after senators returned from their August recess, on Tuesday.

"The fact is the financial crisis and the recession were not the result of normal economic cycles or just a run of bad luck," Obama said while nominating Cordray. "They were abuses and there was a lack of smart regulations."

The bureau was created by the Dodd-Frank regulatory overhaul and is tasked with regulating consumer financial products.

In November, Cordray lost to former Lt. Gov. and U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, a Republican, in the state attorney general race. He had been elected to the post in November 2008 to serve the remainder of the term held by the previous attorney general, Marc Dann. Dann had resigned in May 2008 amid a sex scandal.

Prior to being attorney general, Cordray served as the Ohio State Treasurer and as treasurer of Franklin County, Ohio. He also served as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives and as the state's first solicitor.

In addition to Republicans, the American Tort Reform Association also has said it is skeptical of Cordray's nomination to the post.

ATRA questions his relationships with private attorneys he hired to pursue state lawsuits while serving as attorney general.

"Mr. Cordray appears to share CFPB architect Elizabeth Warren's often voiced belief that litigation is a perfectly legitimate means by which to craft public policy, even though it sidesteps duly elected lawmakers and executives, and even though it lacks proper transparency," ATRA President Tiger Joyce said.

Other nominations expected to be heard Tuesday afternoon by the banking committee were Patricia M. Loui of Hawaii and Larry W. Walther of Arkansas, to be members of the board of directors of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

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