Obama Eyes Ex-Banker for Consumer Chief
President Barack Obama is considering nominating Raj Date, a former banker with Capital One Financial Corp. (COF) and Deutsche Bank AG, as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a person briefed on the process.
Date is already at the consumer bureau, working as a top deputy to Elizabeth Warren, the Obama administration adviser who is setting up the new agency. He is on a short list of candidates to become director, the person said.
Obama hasn’t made a final decision on who to nominate to the post, which requires Senate confirmation, the person said. The agency is to begin formal operations on July 21, one year after Obama signed the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul into law.
Date’s nomination could be a way for the Obama administration to tamp down political controversy over the leadership of the consumer agency, which is one of the centerpieces of Dodd-Frank. Warren could urge her supporters to endorse his nomination, and his industry experience has been praised by banks that would fall under the bureau’s oversight.
Still, after 44 Republican senators announced last month that they wouldn’t vote to approve any candidate to run the bureau without changes in its structure, the White House might have to resort to a temporary appointment during a congressional recess. Sixty of the 100 senators are effectively required to vote for a nomination due to procedural rules.
While Warren hasn’t indicated her plans, some Democratic Party officials and supporters have urged her to run for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Scott Brown.
“The president is considering a number of candidates for this position and no decisions have been made,” said Jen Psaki, a White House spokeswoman. Consumer bureau spokeswoman Jennifer Howard declined to comment. Date did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Date, 40, earned an engineering degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a law degree from Harvard University. He was senior vice president for corporate strategy and development at Capital One and a managing director in the financial institutions group at Deutsche Bank. During the debate over Dodd-Frank, Date headed the Cambridge Winter Center for Financial Institutions Policy, a research group he founded.
He has served since February as the bureau’s associate director for research, markets and regulation.
Warren, who helped conceive the idea of a federal agency overseeing consumer finance, hasn’t been publicly ruled out as a candidate for director. Obama didn’t nominate her last fall after then-Senator Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who headed the Banking Committee, said she could not win confirmation.
Since then, several potential candidates have turned back overtures, including Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, and Ted Kaufman, a former Democratic senator from Delaware, people briefed on the search said.
While Warren has won praise from lawmakers for the people she’s hired at the agency, she has continued to attract criticism from the biggest banks and from Republicans who contend that the director would have too much authority without enough accountability.
Warren has clashed with House Republicans at two hearings about the agency’s mandate, and about her role in settlement talks between banks, state and federal agencies over problems with the foreclosure process. The most recent on May 24 unraveled into a dispute about scheduling during which Representative Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, accused Warren of lying.
When she appointed Date to the unit that will draft rules for credit cards, mortgages, student loans and payday lenders, Warren said that he and his team would “bring a wealth of experience in the financial services industry, government, non- profits, community banking and academia that will help us build a world-class” research and regulations unit.
In a recent interview with Bloomberg News, Date, who joined Capital One in 2001, recalled his tenure there during the housing bubble. He said he told his colleagues that schemes to make quick money off customers would have an impact on the bank’s reputation and balance sheet.
“I was very, very boring at cocktail parties,” Date said in the interview. “But I happened to have experience at the intersection of issues that were uniquely important in the fall of 2008.”
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