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Washington • Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker on Wednesday joined a major White House push for the Senate to confirm the head of a new agency aimed at cracking down on financial abuses.
Shurtleff appeared at the White House on Tuesday with three other attorneys general to argue that senators should confirm Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), an agency created out of the Wall Street reform legislation after the economic meltdown of 2008.
Republican Shurtleff has been one of Cordray's strongest advocates, saying that despite his own concerns with the structure of the new agency, he believes Cordray is perfectly suited and well-experienced to serve as director.
"I'm always concerned with how agencies act and sometimes if they are empowered or get certain directors in place you worry that rather than just focusing on bad actors and trying to get a certain level playing field, they sometimes get overaggressive across the board," Shurtleff said during a recent call organized by the White House. "I don't see that happening at all with Richard Cordray."
Becker, a Democrat, joined a separate call Tuesday to lay out the importance of filling the director's position.
"Richard Cordray is eminently qualified to head up the CFPB and deserves the support of our federal congressional delegation," Becker says. "The sooner this directorship is filled, the sooner all our citizens can reap the benefits of responsible and appropriate monitoring and mandated accountability of non-bank financial institutions."
Once confirmed, the director of the new agency would be able to launch oversight of several services that consumers rely on, including credit-monitoring agencies, payday loan lenders and mortgage brokers. Those duties can't be fully employed until a director is confirmed.
Utah's two senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, say they don't oppose Cordray personally but plan to block his confirmation because they believe the new agency will stifle economic growth and hurt consumers' choices.
In a blog post, Lee said that the agency Cordray would head is an "unaccountable new government bureaucracy that will invariably intrude into the lives of nearly every American with a checking account or a credit card.
"Confirming any director for this bureau would be tantamount to agreeing that we need a uniquely powerful superagency that is not even designed to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis," Lee said.
The Senate is expected to vote Thursday on Cordray's nomination.
Meanwhile, Shurtleff is getting a bonus for flying to Washington to show his support for Cordray: The Utahn is slated to attend a White House Christmas party Friday.