Political News

White House Confirms That Mulvaney Deputy Is Pick to Lead Consumer Bureau

Posted June 16, 2018 7:15 p.m. EDT

Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director and acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has picked a deputy at the budget office, Kathy Kraninger, to succeed him at the consumer watchdog agency, a White House spokeswoman confirmed Saturday.

Kraninger, who oversees the preparation of the budgets for Cabinet departments, was selected over the objection of some officials inside the White House, who argued that her relative inexperience — and association with Mulvaney — could scuttle her nomination.

“The president intends to nominate Kathy Kraninger” as the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created under the Obama administration to curb abuses by banks, the payday lending industry and other financial services companies, Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman, said in a statement. Word of Kraninger’s likely appointment was first reported Friday.

On Saturday, White House officials played down the fact that she has never held a job as a regulator or worked in the financial services industry. “She will bring a fresh perspective and much-needed management experience” to the agency, Walters said, “which has been plagued by excessive spending, dysfunctional operations, and politicized agendas.” The Trump administration has criticized the consumer bureau’s aggressive regulatory posture under its Obama-appointed director, Richard Cordray.

The appointment of Kraninger, 43, a Pittsburgh native and graduate of Marquette University and Georgetown Law School, prompted immediate criticism from consumer advocates who said she was too inexperienced and too closely connected to Mulvaney. Under his leadership, Mulvaney has sought to drastically scale back the bureau’s investigations and enforcement actions against lenders, especially in the payday industry.

“This looks like nothing more than a desperate attempt by Mick Mulvaney to maintain his grip on the CFPB so he can continue undermining its important consumer protection mission on behalf of the powerful Wall Street special interests and predatory lenders that have bankrolled his career,” said Karl Frisch, the executive director of Allied Progress, a consumer group that has been critical of Mulvaney.

“Kraninger has absolutely no relevant experience that indicates she is qualified to be America’s chief consumer advocate,” he added.

A senior administration official involved in the decision to pick Kraninger said her selection was intended to turn down the temperature at the bureau and contrasted her low-key style with Mulvaney’s confrontational approach.

Still, the official described Kraninger as an enthusiastic supporter of free markets and could not cite any policy positions with which she will differ substantively from Mulvaney’s deregulatory agenda.

Kraninger specialized in homeland security matters before joining Mulvaney’s staff at the Office of Management and Budget in March 2017.

Last week, Mulvaney told reporters that he was not participating in the selection process for his new deputy. White House officials disputed that account and said Kraninger was his clear preference.

Kraninger surmounted a key hurdle last week when a member of the National Economic Council staff, Andrew Olmem, signed off on her nomination, people close to the situation said.

President Donald Trump tapped Mulvaney to oversee the consumer bureau in late 2017, giving the brash former South Carolina lawmaker a mandate to dismantle the agency, which was created in the wake of the financial crisis.

Kraninger has spent much of her career on Capitol Hill, including serving as the clerk for the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security and working with the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Another administration official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said Mulvaney had picked Kraninger because she was seen as more palatable, particularly to Democrats, than another candidate, Todd J. Zywicki, a conservative professor at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.

Trump intends to nominate Kraninger this coming week and “hopes that she will be promptly confirmed by the Senate,” Walters said.