According to a Wall Street Journal report on Friday, interim Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) director Mick Mulvaney has recruited Brian Johnson, an attorney and aide to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), to serve as a senior adviser.
Rep. Hensarling is reportedly one of those on President Trump’s short list to be nominated for the permanent CFPB director position.
The WSJ article reports that Johnson will have the authority to act on behalf of Mulvaney during the transition to a permanent director. This is significant, as Mulvaney has a full time job as director of the Office of Management & Budget. He has said that he will work three days at each job for the foreseeable future, but with both positions currently carrying a heavy demand it is clear that this will be difficult to maintain in practice and give each job its due.
According to Politico, the other candidates on Trump’s short list to replace Richard Cordray include Todd Zywicki, law professor at George Mason University; and Keith Norieka, former acting Comptroller of the Currency.
Other names previously discussed have included former Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas); Mark Calabria, currently Mike Pence's Chief Economist and former Director of Financial Regulation Studies at the Cato Institute; and former Fannie Mae counsel Brian Brooks.
In The Hill yesterday, opinion contributor Matt Mackowiak suggested that the President should nominate former Congressman Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) to the post. He is the current choice to lead the Export-Import Bank, but evidently is expected to have difficulty being confirmed for that position. Mackowiak suggests that the CFPB post would be an easier confirmation lift. Mr. Mackowiak is president of Potomac Strategy Group, and a Republican Consultant, serving in the Bush administration and election campaign.
An administration official told Politico that a nominee could be chosen in the next couple of weeks, with an announcement as soon as early January.
Meanwhile, according to a report by Reuters, Leandra English -- former CFPB director Cordray's chief of staff and pick to be the Bureau's interim head -- is still attempting to direct activities. Reuters referred to emails sent to staff as recently as last Thursday night, urging colleagues to ensure that pending enforcement actions are still on track. In spite of last Tuesday's decision by judge Timothy Berry of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia that Mick Mulvaney is the rightful interim director, it seems not everyone accepts this outcome.
It is unclear whether Johnson’s temporary job has anything to do with who Trump will pick for the job, but no doubt Rep. Hensarling will be interested to learn what has been going on behind the scenes at the CFPB; he has said many times that he believes Cordray was less than forthcoming with his committee.
Finally, just in case you were keeping track, it seems interim director Mulvaney is not as prolific on Twitter as his boss. Last week I linked to his brand new CFPB Twitter page, which contained just one tweet. Today, although his followers have about doubled, from 1703 to 3,481… there’s still just the one tweet.