Uncategorized — December 7, 2011 at 11:19 am

Michigan’s Bill Schuette doesn’t join state AGs supporting Richard Cordray to head CFPB


In October, 37 attorneys general from across the country sent a letter to Congress (pdf) urging them to support the nomination of Richard Cordray to head up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This included ten Republican AGs. Not among them: Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.

The letter gives Cordray and the fledgling bureau itself glowing reviews.

The undersigned state attorneys general write to express our support for the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). We believe he has the knowledge, experience and leadership skills to serve in this important position. He is both brilliant and balanced. Mr. Cordray is particularly well qualified to serve in this position. […]

The CFPB is intended to make basic financial practices such as taking out a mortgage or a loan more clear and transparent. It is also charged with ferreting out unfair lending practices. Mr. Cordray knows that such actions will not only protect consumers but will also assist community bankers and other financial companies that are committed to honest dealing and quality customer service. He is determined to use a balanced approach to the financial services industry. As head of the CFPB, Mr. Cordray will be an honest broker and strong advocate for both businesses and consumers that are committed to following the rules.

Mr. Cordray has a superior knowledge of the financial services marketplace. That knowledge combined with his keen intellect and experience as a lawyer and a prosecutor make him well qualified for this position. He is also a fair-minded man with sound judgment and great personal integrity.

Schuette’s lack of support of Cordray and the CFPB is puzzling in many respects. The Michigan AG himself has gone after unfair lending practices on behalf of Michigan citizens. On June 13, 2011, he issued subpoenas to three mortgage processing firms: Lender Processing, Fidelity National Financial Inc. and CT Corporation.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced that he has issued criminal investigative subpoenas against national mortgage servicing support providers in an expansion of his office’s investigation into questionable mortgage documentation filed with Michigan’s Register of Deeds offices during the current foreclosure crisis.

“Allegations of forged mortgage documents are very serious and require a thorough investigation,” said Schuette. “I will continue to work closely with federal and local authorities to find answers on behalf of Michigan homeowners.”

Strong words and exactly what we would hope to hear for the top law enforcement agent in the state. Based on this, you would expect that Schuette would be thrilled to have an agency like the CFPB on his side, giving him support in ferreting out unfair lending practices and schemes designed to defraud Michiganders.

Apparently Mr. Schuette, who is fighting the Obama administration on tighter regulations on mercury emissions and who is part of a Supreme Court case aimed at declaring the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, what he derisively calls “Obamacare”, unconstitutional is allowing his politics to get in the way of his service to Michigan citizens. Ironically, 11 of the signatories on the letter supporting Cordray’s nomination are also part of the lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Those AGs, it appears put the protection of their constituents over their political views on the Obama administration.

It’s unfortunate that Bill Schuette could find his way to doing the same thing.

The CFPB is clearly something this country is in desperate need for. The abuses by banks and lending firms over the past decade show that, without a watchdog to police these groups, fraud, deceit and malfeasance put Americans at risk. The very fact that Republicans in Congress are blocking the nomination of anyone to head this bureau, even eminently qualified people like Richard Cordray or Elizabeth Warren, tells you nearly everything you need to know about whose side the GOP is on. Hint: it ain’t yours (unless you are very, very wealthy or a bank.) They aren’t fighting the nomination of the individuals picked to head up the CFPB, they are fighting against the existence of the CFPB altogether. For that you can expect to see their campaign coffers to be filled by the banks when they come up for reelection.