Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee and a persistent critic of the operation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) regulatory overreach under former Director Richard Cordray, is encouraging President Trump to nominate National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman Mark McWatters to become the next director of the controversial independent agency.
“As someone who has known Mark McWatters for years and who is keenly aware of the challenges and threats that abound at the CFPB, I can think of few better equipped to serve as its director. Having worked closely with Mark in the past, I know him to be incredibly smart, a real free market conservative and an effective reformer. Mark has my utmost confidence and I encourage President Trump to nominate him,” Hensarling said in a statement emailed to Breitbart News late Monday.
Earlier on Monday, McWatters pushed back against critics who questioned his suitability for the job at the CFPB through a spokersperson for the NCUA.
“The NCUA regulates more than 5,000 credit unions, which are primarily engaged in consumer lending, and insures more than 110 million credit union member accounts. Since his appointment to the Board, Chairman McWatters has strongly and consistently advocated for regulatory relief and greater agency transparency, keeping paramount the safety and soundness of America’s credit union system,” John Fairbanks of the Office of Public and Congressional Affairs for the NCUA told Breitbart News in an emailed statement.
“His record has shown that, by working in a bipartisan manner, the best ideas on modernizing regulation and providing relief prevail. His efforts have resulted in a re-structuring and consolidation of the agency and a thoughtfully targeted regulatory approach that provides credit unions with a greater opportunity to serve America’s credit union members,” Fairbanks added.
Fairbanks also clarified the working relationship between McWatters and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) when she chaired the TARP Congressional Panel between 2008 and 2010 while McWatters served as one of the panel’s five members.
“It is incorrect to say Chairman McWatters ‘worked for’ Sen. Warren. Chairman McWatters was a fellow member on the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel. The CNN profile story on then-Professor Warren that is linked in your report includes this: “The two Republicans currently serving on the oversight panel said in a statement that they’ve liked working with Warren,” Fairbanks noted.
In 2016, McWatters was named to head the Export-Import Bank by President Obama, but the nomination was blocked by Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) because he objected to the existence of the agency.
Breitbart News asked Chairman McWatters why a conservative would accept an appointment from a Democratic president to head up the Export-Import Bank, considered a poster-child for crony capitalism by conservatives, who have tried to eliminate it for years, without success.
“Chairman McWatters was recommended for nomination to both the NCUA and to the Export-Import Bank by Senate Majority Leader McConnell. In both instances, he was then nominated by President Obama to fill a seat designated for a Republican member,” Fairbanks responded.
Fairbanks also noted McWatters’ other qualifications:
Chairman McWatters holds law degrees from the University of Texas, Columbia University and New York University. He holds licenses to practice law in Texas and New York and has been a partner in three large international law firms. He also holds a license as a Certified Public Accountant.
Chairman McWatters has served as counsel to Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), currently Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. He has served on the NCUA Board since 2014 and was appointed the agency’s Board Chairman last year by President Trump.
Fairbanks responded to a question posed by Breitbart News earlier in the day to confirm or deny reports that Chairman McWatters has hired a public relations firm to promote his candidacy to become director of the CFPB.
“Chairman McWatters has not retained a public relations firm,” Fairbanks said.
On Friday, Hensarling announced, “Kirsten Sutton Mork, the committee’s Staff Director, will be departing the committee in the coming weeks to serve as Chief of Staff for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” He went on to say:
As one of my longest-serving and most dedicated aides, Kirsten has been an indispensable advisor to me for the last nine years. Her leadership, deep understanding of financial policy and the legislative process, strength of character, and commitment to conservative principles have been vital to the great victories the committee has achieved for the American people during her tenure here. While I am sad to lose such exceptional talent, I know she will do an outstanding job as Chief of Staff for the CFPB and be a tireless advocate for American consumers.
On Monday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) gave an indication of the icy reception any Trump nominee to become director of the CFPB can anticipate when they come before the Senate Banking Committee, of which she is a member, for confirmation hearings.
“Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) accused the acting director of the consumer bureau of using concerns about cybersecurity to sabotage the agency’s oversight of the financial sector,” The Hill reported:
Warren, in a letter released Monday, said acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Mick Mulvaney had been “hobbling the agency” by suspending data collection.
“I fear that the freeze in data collection has in practice fundamentally changed how the CFPB interacts with its regulated entities,” wrote Warren to Mulvaney, also the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and deputy director Leandra English on Jan. 4.
With Rep. Hensarling’s endorsement, McWatters is now clearly at the top of the short list for consideration to be nominated as the next director of the CFPB by President Trump.