Saturday, July 23, 2011

Warren Out as Consumer Czar…Make Way for another Anti-Business Zealot

Pick your poison. That is the effect of Barack Obama’s decision to snub interim Consumer Czar Elizabeth Warren and instead nominate former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), now that the agency is officially up and running. (Judicial Watch’s work certainly contributed to scuttling Warren’s bid to head the agency; more on that in a moment.)
Warren, a leftist radical known particularly for her anti-business views, was an in-your-face Obama appointee, who had virtually no chance of gaining U.S. Senate approval. That’s why Obama had to use a czar “special adviser” appointment to install her into her position of power.
Cordray appears to be no better than Warren, who immediately hired him after Ohio voters threw him out of office last November. The Wall Street Journal described the former Ohio Attorney General in an editorial this week as “Mrs. Warren without the charm,” while noting the fact that Cordray has demonstrated “hostility toward business.”
That might be an understatement. More from the Journal:
[Cordray] sued Ally Financial’s GMAC Mortgage over its foreclosure practices—a lawsuit that helped spawn the national robo-signing uproar, which has mushroomed into an effort to force big banks to cough up billions for Democrats to redistribute. He sued rating agencies for grading mortgage-backed securities as safe investments. He sued Bank of America for purportedly hiding losses and bonuses prior to the Merrill Lynch merger. The list of cases is long.
In an interview with the Journal, Cordray compared employees of a financial services company to the “Nazis at Nuremberg” who said they were just following orders. That’s exactly what we need at the top of the consumer protection agency in the middle of an economic free fall — a radical anti-business zealot with a penchant for inflammatory rhetoric.
But let me tell you something else disturbing about Cordray that the press largely hasn’t covered yet.
Remember Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as “Joe the Plumber”? He is the Ohio citizen who had the audacity to ask then-candidate Barack Obama about his socialist economic policies during the 2008 presidential election. The president famously responded by saying he thought it was a good idea to “spread the wealth around,” a sound bite that backfired against the Obama campaign
For asking a simple question of a political candidate, Joe was then subjected to retaliation by Obama supporters who were officials of the State of Ohio, when they illegally accessed confidential information from the state’s official databases in an attempt to smear Wurzelbacher’s name.
And what did then-Ohio Attorney General Cordray, the state’s highest law enforcement officer, do about this criminal act? Absolutely nothing. Couldn’t be bothered. But when Judicial Watch sued the state employees on behalf of Joe Wurzelbacher, Cordray sprang into action and came to the defense of the lawbreakers! The State of Ohio’s Office of Inspector General said that the Ohio employees committed a “wrongful act” and misused state resources. Not a problem, according to Cordray.
So what can we learn from this? Richard Cordroy loves to sharpen his claws for big businesses in service to the political Left. But when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of the “little guy,” he couldn’t care less.
Perhaps we should not be surprised by any of this. After all, Warren hired Cordray to work for her at the CFPB. He is her protégé and clearly a chip off of the old block.
As you know if you’ve been reading this column for some time, Judicial Watch has been a long-time critic of Elizabeth Warren and her radicalism. And just a month ago, our investigators caught Warren in an apparent lie when we uncovered documents proving that her agency was very aggressive in a 50-state settlement discussion underway with the nation’s largest mortgage lenders regarding alleged improper foreclosure procedures. (Anti-business zealots in the Obama administration and states’ attorney general offices are trying to extract a $20 billion “settlement” from banks to settle paperwork issues related to foreclosures.)
Warren said during a March 16, 2011, hearing that her agency merely responded to requests for advice regarding these discussions but did not seek to impose its will. Not true. According to the documents we uncovered, Warren held emergency meetings by phone and in person with attorneys general nationwide to contribute unsolicited input on the matter. The documents also show that Warren’s office insisted on keeping its contact with the state attorneys general secret.
Importantly, we did not get those documents from Warren’s agency. We obtained them from the state attorneys’ general offices. The CFPB has stonewalled our FOIA requests and still refuses to turn over documents.
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, asked Warren about the CFPB’s attempts to block Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests during a committee hearing on July 14, 2011. The hearing was broadcast live on C-SPAN 3 and is partly available on Judicial Watch’s YouTube page.
After quoting from Judicial Watch’s FOIA appeal that the CFPB’s response was “an abuse of disclosure,” Issa held up a completely blacked-out piece of paper received by JW from the CFPB in “response” to our FOIA request. “They received documents that look like this,” Congressman Issa said, noting that the documents were redacted, “so much so that you violated the law.”
Congressman Issa made his point. And now Warren is out.
Let’s hope Richard Cordray receives the thorough vetting Elizabeth Warren never received. And let us also hope that this issue of transparency is seriously addressed by Congress. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said this week that before the Senate will even consider the Cordray nomination, the Senate “will insist on serious reforms to bring accountability and transparency to the agency.” (Conservatives and most Republicans want to rein in or abolish the new agency. My concern is that the CFPB effectively gives the federal government control of every financial product under the sun. If you want the Obama administration effectively controlling the issuance of every credit card, car loan, and mortgage loan, this monstrous new agency is for you.)
But talk is cheap. Let’s make sure the Senate holds true to its responsibilities. Contact your U.S. Senators today and let them know you want Cordray subjected to a full investigation. Here’s the number for the U.S. Senate switchboard: 202-224-3121.

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