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Obama nominates Cordray to lead CFPB

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President Obama will nominate former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Monday. The CFPB will launch Thursday as regulator for the entire mortgage industry. Cordray lost his re-election bid last fall after pursuing and closing several lawsuits against mortgage servicers and lenders. Elizabeth Warren, the bureau's architect and special adviser the president and Treasury Department, recruited Cordray as the bureau's chief enforcement offier this year. "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 in a statement Sunday. The nomination remained absent during the politically charged assemblage of the agency. Warren and congressional Republicans continually sparred over the scope and power of the agency. Republicans questioned Warren's role in the ongoing settlement talks between servicers and the state AGs. They introduced legislation to water down CFPB authority, including one to establish a commission to lead the agency rather than a single director. As the nomination finally arrives and the Senate sets to vetting Cordray, GOP demands remain unchanged. A group of 44 Senators, led by Rep. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) sent a letter to Obama in May, refusing to vote for any nominee until structural changes to the agency were made. If there is no director by Thursday, the CFPB could lose its supervisory role over nonbank financial institutions. "We will not support the consideration of any nominee, regardless of party affiliation, to be the CFPB director until the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is reformed," the letter reads. The standoff could begin very soon. Senate Banking Committee chair Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) said Sunday he would move the nomination process forward "as quickly as possible." "As director, I am confident Mr. Cordray will help ensure the CFPB provides consumers the tools that they need to make the best possible financial decisions for themselves and their families," Johnson said. "The CFPB is off to a strong start promoting an equitable and transparent consumer financial market place, and that is due in large part to the leadership of Elizabeth Warren." Obama, too, praised Warren as the driving force behind the bureau since its inception. "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," Obama said. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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