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Statement of U.S. PIRG Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski
“U.S. PIRG and the state PIRGs commend Rich Cordray for his over six years as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s first director. Director Cordray was nominated as Director of the Bureau by President Obama upon its startup in July 2011. He was appointed director in a January 2012 recess appointment and finally confirmed by the Senate in July 2013. In its short years as the nation’s top consumer cop, all under Director Cordray, the young Bureau has returned $12 billion dollars to over 29 million consumer victims of financial schemes by wrongdoers ranging from Wall Street banks, mortgage companies and for-profit schools to debt collectors, credit bureaus and payday lenders.
The bureau has had numerous other accomplishments as it has worked, following the nation’s second-worst financial crisis in history, to restore confidence in consumer financial markets. It has issued numerous thoughtful rules, including those concerning mortgage markets, wire-transfers, prepaid cards and payday lending. It has done tremendous outreach to consumers and to regulated industries. It has emphasized protection of groups often at risk of financial harm, including students and older Americans, as well as servicemembers, veterans and their families. Information from its regular community events around the country, its public consumer complaint database and its ongoing supervision of firms ranging from big banks and credit bureaus to payday lenders and non-bank mortgage companies have helped it to identify and correct marketplace problems quickly and efficiently.
None of the names floated so far as potential nominees to succeed the director meet the statutory standards that they will work to “protect consumers from unfair … practices” or ensure that “markets for consumer financial products and services are fair, transparent, and competitive.” Most have harshly criticized the idea of the bureau or even called for its repeal. Some have questioned the idea of consumer protection itself. We hope that the President will reject that list and develop a list of qualified nominees who would work on behalf of consumers and fair markets, not serve as surrogates for Wall Street.
We wish Director Cordray well in his future endeavors. He has certainly exemplified the proper role of a public servant as the Bureau’s first director. The idea of the Consumer Bureau needs no defense, only more defenders.”
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