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Richard Cordray got a boost from former colleagues on Oct. 18 when 37 state and territorial attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Senate urging his confirmation as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The former attorney general of Ohio, Cordray was nominated to head the CFPB in July. A critical mass of Republican senators has vowed to block his nomination unless the three-month old agency is drastically revamped with a board of directors instead of a single leader. The AGs who signed the letter – 10 of whom are Republicans – called Cordray “brilliant and balanced,” and wrote that he has the “knowledge, experience and leadership skills to serve in this important position.” Throwing some belated muscle behind the nomination, the White House organized a press call with Utah AG Mark Shurtleff, Nevada AG Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto and Brian Deese, deputy director of the National Economic Council. All sang Cordray’s praises. “I was very pleased when President Obama nominated Richard Cordray,” Shurtleff said. “We know Rich, we’ve worked with him, we know his character, his intellect….And he knows us, knows how to work with us.” State AGs are important partners for the CFPB, which was created by the Dodd-Frank Act with a mission to police consumer financial markets for unfair, abusive or deceptive practices. The law gives state AGs the authority to enforce the bureau’s regulations in court. Masto praised Cordray’s “aggressive nature in protecting consumers. There’s no doubt in my mind Rich would have a tremendously positive impact as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” Without a confirmed director in place, the CFPB’s powers are limited by statute, and exclude oversight of non-bank financial companies. “Consumer protection is a critical component of overall reform needed for the system,” Deese said. “We need to put a confirmed director in place.” As for Republican complaints that the agency is too powerful and must be restructured, Deese said it was “modeled on other independent banking regulators…the agency is accountable and subject to a unique degree of oversight.” On Oct. 6, Cordray’s nomination passed the Senate Banking Committee in a 12 to 10 vote along party lines. The full Senate has yet to take action. Contact Jenna Greene at [email protected].

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