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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: Is the way the CFPB handles enforcement about to change?

Nevada senators urge mortgage relief for Las Vegas victims

Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at news coming across HousingWire’s weekend desk, with more coverage to come on larger issues.

Every day, it seems there’s a new rumor surrounding the apparently looming departure of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray.

The rumors last month were that Cordray was going to announce his resignation and run for Ohio governor simultaneously, during a Labor Day weekend speech at the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

The speech happened, but Cordray didn’t make any big announcements.

Cordray gave another speech in Ohio a few days later, fueling speculation that he might announce his resignation there. Didn’t happen.

The one thing supposedly standing in the way of Cordray leaving was the announcement of the CFPB’s new payday lending rule, which the bureau announced nearly two weeks ago.

Yet Cordray is still on the job, as of this writing.

But regardless of what happens to Cordray, the way the CFPB handles enforcement could be changing as we speak, because the CFPB’s enforcement director is apparently leaving the bureau.

The National Law Journal has the details on the departure of Anthony Alexis:

Anthony Alexis, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s enforcement chief, is stepping down after more than two years overseeing the agency's efforts to combat abuses by the financial industry, a departure certain to fuel speculation that Director Richard Cordray will leave soon to pursue the Ohio governorship.

Alexis, a former Mayer Brown partner who was named enforcement director in 2015 after holding the role in an interim capacity, announced his departure plans to CFPB staff Thursday afternoon, according to a former CFPB attorney who is familiar with the matter.

CFPB spokesman David Mayorga on Friday confirmed Alexis is leaving but declined to provide further details. His exact departure date was not immediately known. Alexis first joined the CFPB in 2012 and was named acting enforcement director in July 2013, replacing Kent Markus. Alexis was not reached for comment Friday.

As the article notes, there’s no word on where Alexis is going next, or what the CFPB plans to do to fill the newly vacated position.

The article also notes that the CFPB posted the position of assistant director, enforcement on its public job listings. Among the job’s responsibilities:

  • Work with the senior management to plan, establish, direct, coordinate and evaluate CFPB’s enforcement programs
  • Formulate and develop needed policies, procedures, and guidelines for conducting enforcement functions effectively and efficiently, and ensure that legal advice is in accordance with applicable laws and regulations

The pay grade for the job is between $200,596 and $247,500.

There’s a developing staffing situation over at the Department of the Treasury too.

Back in June, it was rumored that the Trump administration planned to name Fannie Mae General Counsel Brian Brooks as deputy Treasury secretary.

Brooks’ history with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was believed to be a factor in him being nominated for the position.

Brooks worked with Mnuchin at OneWest before joining Fannie Mae in 2014 as executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. 

Brooks was also rumored to be among the Trump administration’s choices to replace Cordray should he step down or be fired.

But as it turns out, Brooks has taken his name out of the running for the position at Treasury altogether.

Politico’s Lorraine Woellert has the story:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has no plans to fill the No. 2 slot in his department after two candidates for the job dropped out of the running.

The department made the surprising announcement after Brian Brooks withdrew from consideration for deputy Treasury secretary, according to several people familiar with his decision. In May, Goldman Sachs executive Jim Donovan dropped out due to family concerns.

According to Woellert’s article, Mnuchin now has abandoned plans to fill the deputy secretary position.

Again from Politico:

The Treasury spokesperson said Mnuchin has "incredible confidence" in his senior staff. "With two Undersecretaries, four Counselors, a Chief of Staff and General Counsel, he is very well-served. He has decided not to fill the Deputy position as he likes having the direct reports."

And finally, the tragic and senseless shooting in Las Vegas earlier this month left scars throughout the country that have yet to heal. The housing industry, like many others, suffered great losses in that horrific act.

Now, the senators from Nevada are calling on the housing industry to give back to those who suffered or lost someone on that horrible night.

In a letter sent last week to Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Nationstar Mortgage (Mr. Cooper), Ocwen Financial, Citi, US Bank, Walter Investment Management, PHH, Quicken Loans, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, and Dean Heller, R-Nevada, asked the companies and agencies to provide mortgage relief to those affected by the Las Vegas shooting.

“As leaders in the mortgage industry, we ask that you do everything in your power to assist victims and survivors of the senseless mass shooting which occurred on October 1, 2017, in Las Vegas,” the Senators wrote.

“While victims and survivors face a long road to recovery in terms of healing their physical and psychological scars, they may also encounter substantial financial burdens that compound their tremendous stress,” they continued.

“With that in mind, we write to you today to ask that your organizations do whatever they can to ease the burdens that may be faced by victims, survivors, and their families at this difficult time or in the future,” the senators added. “Importantly, should the issue arise, we would ask that you not initiate or finalize any legal foreclosure proceedings that would lead to a victim or their family’s eviction during their recovery.”

The senators also asked the companies and agencies to offer “tailored solutions,” including forbearance and loan modifications, to Las Vegas victims and survivors should they face financial difficulties in the future.

“Individuals recovering from the events of October 1st should not have to worry about evictions, late fees, negative credit reports, or any other financial burdens that may exacerbate the tremendous stress caused by this senseless tragedy,” the senators concluded. “We appreciate your attention to these matters and your support for the wider Las Vegas community.”

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