The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau plans to name Kristen Donoghue, the top deputy under outgoing enforcement chief Anthony Alexis, to lead of the Obama-era agency’s effort to police the financial industry, according to three sources familiar with the decision.
Donoghue is a longtime agency lawyer who was widely seen as a likely successor to Alexis, a former federal prosecutor and Mayer Brown partner who took over as acting enforcement chief in July 2013 before being appointed the division’s permanent director in January 2015. The CFPB confirmed Tuesday that Donoghue had been picked to replace Alexis, whose last day will be Nov. 17. Alexis hasn’t said where he is going after the CFPB.
“Kristen Donoghue has been an essential member of the Consumer Bureau’s enforcement team since the very first days of the agency,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement Tuesday. “Kristen is a proven leader who has demonstrated her integrity, deep knowledge of financial services and consumer protection, and commitment to public service.”
Donoghue’s time in her new role may be brief. Regardless of whether Cordray resigns to pursue his widely rumored interest in the Ohio gubernatorial race, his days leading the watchdog agency are numbered. Cordray’s five-year term is set to expire in July 2018, and the replacement picked by President Donald Trump will likely bring in a new senior leadership team.
The CFPB only considered internal candidates to replace Alexis. One former CFPB attorney said it would have been difficult to “get the cream of the crop” outside the agency with Cordray’s five-year term fast-approaching its end.
Donoghue joined the CFPB in 2011 after working at the law firm Hogan Lovells, where she focused on litigation. Since then, she has steadily risen through the CFPB ranks.
Before being named top deputy under Alexis in January, Donoghue oversaw the enforcement division’s strategy team—a group that focuses on efforts to effect consumer-friendly changes in the financial services market. The role kept her engaged with the CFPB enforcement platoons in Washington and with the field offices in New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
Alexis told enforcement lawyers of his departure plans last month, as the National Law Journal first reported. His plan was to remain at the CFPB until the selection of his successor.
“I also want to thank Tony Alexis for everything he has done for the Consumer Bureau, and for his years of service seeking justice and relief for American consumers,” Cordray said in his statement.
With his experience at the Justice Department, a white-shoe law firm and in the CFPB’s senior leadership, Alexis could be a big name addition to a private law firm.
Between June and July, the firms Sidley Austin, Ballard Spahr, Goodwin Procter and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips each requested meetings with one or more CFPB officials to discuss employment opportunities, according to notifications required under ethics rules.