Elizabeth Warren, the special adviser charged with setting up the new U.S. Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, has begun soliciting names of potential nominees to head the agency from industry and consumer groups, according to three people involved in the discussions.
During the discussions, which have occurred in the last few days, Warren did not provide a short list of candidates, the sources said. Instead, Warren and her adviser, Rajeev Date, asked the outside groups to offer possible candidates.
Camden Fine, head of the Independent Community Bankers of America, said he was asked for advice. He offered thoughts on the kind of person who should run the agency, and will provide names later, he said.
“I suggested that the person should be even-handed, have solid knowledge of the industry and in particular the community banking business,” Fine said, adding that the director should “not be a cheerleader for the industry either.”
Some groups have offered specific names, another person involved in the discussions said.
News of the conversations was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on its website Wednesday night.
Those involved in the calls said there was no indication that Warren herself had been ruled out as a nominee.
The director would need to be confirmed by the Senate. Senator Christopher Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat who was one of the main authors of the financial regulatory overhaul legislation, has said Warren would have trouble getting enough votes in the Senate for confirmation. Warren is popular with President Barack Obama’s Democratic base but not with many Republicans and centrist Democrats.
“You can’t discount her as a candidate either,” Fine said. “It’s a little unclear at this point.”
Obama named Warren as an assistant to the president and special adviser to the Treasury secretary Sept. 17 after it became clear that Senate confirmation would be difficult. Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, said in September that Warren would be “instrumental in helping the president fill that position,” but declined to rule her out as a potential nominee.
Gibbs also said that there was no “end date” for her role as a presidential adviser. Warren has been involved in Obama administration work on the crisis in foreclosures and mortgage servicing.
Peter Jackson, a spokesman for Warren, declined to comment.