With Richard Cordray’s tenure as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking shorter and shorter with each passing day, the White House reportedly has its eyes on a Fannie Mae executive to take over at the CFPB if/when Cordray is fired.
On Thursday, a memo purportedly from House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, began circulating around Washington. The memo details how a new version of the Financial CHOICE Act, the Republican-led effort to repeal and replace Dodd-Frank, could be introduced in the House of Representatives soon.
The memo, if accurate, suggests that the new Financial CHOICE Act would give the president the authority to fire the CFPB director at will, rather than only for cause.
The strength of the CFPB director’s position could also be impacted by the CFPB’s court battle with PHH, which is over the constitutionality of the CFPB's leadership structure.
That ruling as it stands now, makes the CFPB director fireable at will, but the government is appealing the decision. If the CFPB wins its appeal, the president would need a cause to fire the CFPB director. Conversely, if the government loses the case, the director would answer directly to the president.
All the while, the administration of President Donald Trump is reportedly looking for various ways to oust Cordray and at who would replace him.
Former Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, is reportedly on the shortlist to replace Cordray, but now, a new name is emerging to serve as the CFPB director if Trump fires Cordray.
According to a new report from CNBC, Brian Brooks, who currently serves at the general counsel at Fannie Mae, is also on the Trump administration’s shortlist.
Brian Brooks is currently the mortgage financing giant's general counsel and has close ties to Treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin. Brooks represented several of the investors in Mnuchin's purchase of failed subprime mortgage lender IndyMac for $1.6 billion in 2009. The bank was renamed OneWest, and Brooks joined the company as vice chairman.
He left the bank for Fannie Mae in 2014, shortly before OneWest was acquired by CIT Group.
As the CNBC article notes, Brooks reportedly has “close ties” with Mnuchin, the Trump administration’s choice to lead the Department of the Treasury.
Mnuchin, who is currently awaiting a confirmation vote in the Senate, is a former executive at Goldman Sachs and the former chairman of OneWest Bank.
Brooks joined Fannie Mae in 2014 after leaving OneWest, where he served as vice chairman and chief legal officer.
Throughout his confirmation process, Democrats have used Mnuchin’s time at OneWest against him, holding him up as the “foreclosure king,” so it’s possible that Democrats could choose to paint Brooks with same brush.
But none of that is known at this point.
What is known is that Brooks could be moving on from Fannie Mae to the CFPB. But before he does, some other dominoes have to fall. Now it’s just a question of which ones.