CFPB Director Kraninger Packed Over Half the Consumer Advisory Board with Financial Industry Insiders

Washington D.C. – Ahead of CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger’s Congressional appearances this week, consumer watchdog group Allied Progress released a new analysis finding that more than half of Kraninger’s appointments to the Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) have ties to the financial services industry. The House Financial Services Committee’s October 16th hearing on the CFPB’s Semi-Annual report is appropriately named, “Who Is Standing Up for Consumers?”. The answer is unclear as Kraninger has kept experienced consumer advocates in the minority on the CAB at the same time she is proposing to gut consumer protections from the payday and debt collection industries and refusing to defend the bureau’s constitutionality.

Also unclear: what possible consumer interest is served by Kraninger’s recent CAB appointment of a former mortgage banker once known as the “new face of the housing crisis” for her role in saddling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with toxic mortgages that led to over a billion dollars in losses during the financial crisis?

The Consumer Advisory Board’s charter instructs the Director to “assemble experts in consumer protection, financial services, community development, fair lending and civil rights, and consumer financial products”. The charter also states the board could include “representatives of depository institutions”, like a commercial bank, but nowhere does it mandate that financial institutions and their allies be the primary ‘voice for consumers.'”. It is another reminder why the Senate needs to follow the U.S. House’s lead and pass the “Consumers First Act”, which would require the CAB to include a majority of members who represent consumer’s interests.

“Director Kraninger has marginalized the voices of consumer champions on her advisory board in favor of financial industry alums experienced mostly in chasing profits,” said Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Allied Progress. “Kraninger wanted credit for reversing her predecessor Mick Mulvaney’s decision to disband the CAB, but Congress never intended it to be overrepresented by industries the bureau is supposed to hold accountable. As long as Kraninger insists on taking her cues from the likes of people who were at the center of the financial crisis, how will consumers ever come out ahead?”

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

More Than Half The Members Of The CFPB’s “Consumer” Advisory Board Are Tied To The Financial Services Industry

The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) Is Intended To Advise The Bureau On Its Functions And Inform Them On “Emerging Practices.”

The Consumer Advisory Board’s Purpose Is To Advise The CFPB “In The Exercise Of Its Functions’” And Inform Them On “Emerging Practices In The Consumer Financial’” Space.

 The Consumer Advisory Board’s Purpose Is To “‘Advise The Bureau In The Exercise Of Its Functions’” And To “‘Provide Information On Emerging Practices In The Consumer Financial’” Space. “The purpose of the CAB is outlined in Section 1014(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act, which states that the CAB shall, ‘advise the Bureau in the exercise of its functions under the Federal consumer financial laws” and ‘provide information on emerging practices in the consumer financial products or services industry, including regional trends, concerns, and other relevant information.’” [Charter of the Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 03/19/19]

While The Consumer Advisory Board Charter Permits Representatives From “Depository Institutions” To Serve On The Board, The Bureau Is Directed To Seek “Experts In Consumer Protection, Financial Services, Community Development, Fair Lending And Civil Rights, And Consumer Financial Products.”

The Consumer Advisory Board’s Charter Dictates That The Board Should Be Composed Of “Experts In Consumer Protection, Financial Services, Community Development, Fair Lending And Civil Rights, And Consumer Financial Products.”

The Consumer Advisory Board’s Charter Dictates That The Board Should Be Composed Of “Experts In Consumer Protection, Financial Services, Community Development, Fair Lending And Civil Rights, And Consumer Financial Products.” The Consumer Advisory Board’s charter instructs the Director to “assemble experts in consumer protection, financial services, community development, fair lending and civil rights, and consumer financial products.” [Charter of the Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 03/19/19]

The Consumer Advisory Board Should Also Have “Representatives Of Depository Institutions” That “Serve Underserved Communities” And Representatives Of Communities “Impacted By Higher-Priced Mortgage Loans.”

The Consumer Advisory Board Should Also Have “Representatives Of Depository Institutions” That “Serve Underserved Communities” And Representatives Of Communities “Impacted By Higher-Priced Mortgage Loans.” The Consumer Advisory Board should also have “representatives of depository institutions that primarily serve underserved communities, and representatives of communities that have been significantly impacted by higher-priced mortgage loans.” [Charter of the Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 03/19/19]

On October 3, 2019, The CFPB Announced The Latest Roster For The Consumer Advisory Board.

  • Chair of the CAB – Brent Neiser, Senior Director, National Endowment for Financial Education (Denver, CO)
  • Nikitra Bailey, EVP, Center for Responsible Lending (Durham, NC)
  • Nadine Cohen, Managing Attorney, Greater Boston Legal Services (Boston, MA)
  • Sameh Elamawy, CEO, Scratch Services, Inc. (San Francisco, CA)
  • Manning Field, COO, Acorns (Irvine, CA)
  • Clint Gwin, President & CEO, Pathway Lending (Nashville, TN)
  • Ronald Johnson, Former President, Clark Atlanta University (Atlanta, GA)
  • Tim Lampkin, CEO, Higher Purpose Co. (Clarksdale, MS)
  • Eric Kaplan, Director – Housing Finance Program, Milken Institute (Washington, DC)
  • Sophie Raseman, Director of Product, Brightside (San Francisco, CA)
  • Rebecca Steele, President/CEO, National Foundation for Credit Counseling (Washington, DC)
  • Tim Welsh, Vice Chairman Consumer and Business Banking, U.S. Bank (Minneapolis, MN)

[Press Release, “CFPB Announces Advisory Committee Members,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 10/03/19]

More Than Half The New Consumer Advisory Board Members Are Connected To The Financial Services Industry, Including Companies Such As JP Morgan Chase, Countrywide Financial and US Bank.

Manning Field Is The COO Of Investment App Acorns, But Previously Worked For JP Morgan Chase For 18 Years.

Manning Field Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board.

 Manning Field Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board. [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

Manning Field Is The COO Of Acorns, An App For “Micro-Investing.”

Manning Field Is The COO Of Acorns And Oversees, Among Other Things, “Growth” And “Acorns’ Regulates Entities.” “Manning Field serves as Acorns’ Chief Operating Officer. Manning oversees the business with direct accountability for Growth, Retention, Experimentation, Customer Service, Analytics, Project Management, and Acorns’ regulated entities.” [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

  • The App, Acorns, “Offers A Way Try Your Hand At Micro-Investing” By Allowing “You To Invest Small Sums” And Rounding Up Purchases To “Invest That Extra Change.” The app, “Acorns Core product offers a way try your hand at micro-investing using daily spare change (there’s also Acorns Later, a retirement product, and Acorns Spend, a checking account). Acorns allows you to invest small sums (as little as $5) and you can also round up your purchases and invest that extra change; the app was designed with diversification in mind and provides insight into the best portfolio for your financial goals.” [Caroline Lupini, “What it’s like to use Acorns, the app that lets you turn your spare change into an investment portfolio,” Business Insider, 07/20/19]

Manning Field Previously Spent 18 Years At JPMorgan Chase In Several Roles, Including CMO Of The “Consumer Team” And “Managing Director Of Loyalty Innovation.”

 Before Acorns, Manning Field Worked “At JPMorgan Chase” In Several Roles Over “His 18-Year Tenure,” Including “CMO Of JPMorgan Chase’s Consumer Team” And “Managing Director Of Loyalty Innovation.” “Prior to Acorns, Manning launched market-leading products and programs at JPMorgan Chase like Chase Sapphire, Chase Freedom and Chase Ultimate Rewards, and was named an Ad Age “40 Under 40.” He also spent four years in Beijing, China, as CMO of JPMorgan Chase’s consumer team and while there, founded a local credit card business. During his 18-year tenure at Chase, Manning oversaw many departments including Branding, Advertising, Product Development, Marketing, Corporate Development, Innovation, B2B Corporate Sales Strategy, and, lastly, as the Managing Director of Loyalty Innovation.” [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

Eric Kaplan, The Housing Finance Program Director At The Milken Institute’s Center For Financial Markets, Previously Held Senior Leadership Positions At Several Big Banks—Including Countrywide — A Major Player In The Financial Crisis.

Eric Kaplan Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board.

Eric Kaplan Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board. [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

Eric Kaplan Is The “Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets Housing Finance Program” Director, Focusing On The “Roles Of Public And Private Capital, Primary And Secondary Market Dynamics, And Lending And Servicing Practices.”

Eric Kaplan Is The “Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets Housing Finance Program” Director And Focuses On The “Roles Of Public And Private Capital, Primary And Secondary Market Dynamics, And Lending And Servicing Practices.” Eric Kaplan is the “director of the Milken Institute Center for Financial Markets Housing Finance Program. He regularly engages policymakers, regulators, and industry stakeholders on such issues as the roles of public and private capital, primary and secondary market dynamics, and lending and servicing practices, maintaining a focus on consumer, industry, and systemic impact. Mr. Kaplan brings over 26 years of housing and mortgage experience across a variety of finance, legal, and policy roles.” [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

Eric Kaplan Held Senior Leadership Positions At Countrywide, Which “Symbolized The Financial Recklessness” That Lead To The Financial Crisis, As Well As At Morgan Stanley And Wells Fargo.

Eric Kaplan Held Senior Leadership Positions At Morgan Stanley, Countrywide, And Wells Fargo.  Eric Kaplan previously held positions as an “Executive Director” of the “Fixed Income Division” at “Morgan Stanley,” a “Senior Vice President” at “Countrywide Securities Corporation,” now “Bank of America,” and a “Vice President” at “Wells Fargo.” [Eric Kaplan Profile, LinkedIn, accessed 10/10/19]

Rebecca Steele, CEO Of The National Foundation For Credit Counseling, Is A Former Mortgage Banker Who Was Once Dubbed The “New Face Of The Housing Crisis.”

Rebecca Steele Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board.

Rebecca Steele Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board. [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

Rebecca Steele Is The CEO “Of The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).”

Rebecca Steele Is The CEO “Of The National Foundation For Credit Counseling (NFCC).” “Rebecca Steele serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).” [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

Rebecca Steele Is A Former Mortgage Banker Who Has Been Called The “New Face Of The Housing Crisis.”

In October 2013, The New York Times Referred To Rebecca Steele, Then Rebecca Mairone, As The “New Face Of The Housing Crisis” Due To Her Role In “Saddl[ing] The Housing Giants Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac With Bad Mortgages That Resulted In Over $1 Billion In Losses.” “More than five years after the housing bust, the roll call of banking executives who have been blamed by the public for the crisis has grown ever longer. But when it comes to top managers who have been hit with a jury verdict for pushing dubious mortgages, the list is small indeed. The new name added this week was Rebecca S. Mairone, a midlevel executive at Bank of America’s Countrywide mortgage unit, who was held liable by a federal jury in Manhattan for having saddled the housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with bad mortgages that resulted in over $1 billion in losses.” [Landon Thomas Jr., “Bank’s Midlevel Executive Becomes a New Face of the Housing Crisis,” The New York Times, 10/25/13]

While Steele Led The “Full Spectrum Lending Division At Countrywide,”  A Federal Jury Found Bank Of America And Its Subsidiary Countrywide Had Defrauded Frannie Mae And Freddie Mac By Selling Them “Toxic Mortgage Loans.”

In 2013, While Rebecca Steele Served As The “Chief Operating Officer Of Full Spectrum Lending Division At Countrywide,” A Federal Jury Found That Bank Of America And Countrywide “Defraud[ed] Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac By Selling Toxic Mortgage Loans To The Government-Sponsored Enterprises.” “Rebecca Steele, who the New York Times once referred to as the ‘face of the housing crisis,’ has now been hired as the president and CEO of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. But taking up the mantle of CEO of a credit education nonprofit is a far cry from the world Steele came from. Steele formerly served as the chief operating officer of the Full Spectrum Lending Division at Countrywide. Under her leadership, the Full Spectrum Lending Division underwent reorganization and implemented Countrywide’s ‘High Speed Swim Lane’ or ‘HSSL’ loan origination process. The HSSL or ‘Hustle’ program was known for its breakneck pace of loan underwriting. In 2013, a federal jury ruled that Bank of America and Countrywide were liable for defrauding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by selling toxic mortgage loans to the government-sponsored enterprises.” [Jeremiah Jensen, “Rebecca Steele, the ‘face of the housing crisis,’ finds new home at nonprofit credit counselor,” HousingWire, 07/19/18]

  • In July 2008, Bank Of America Purchased Countrywide Financial In A Move That Created The “Nation’s Leading Mortgage Originator And Servicer.” “Bank of America Corporation today completed its purchase of Countrywide Financial Corp. to create the nation’s leading mortgage originator and servicer. Bank of America will focus on responsible home lending, serving as a reliable source of mortgages for the American consumer. Bank of America also will assist new and existing customers with selecting the right product to meet their needs.” [Press Release, Bank of America, 07/01/08]

A Federal Judge Ordered Bank Of America Pay $1 Billion For And Even Steele Herself Was Issued A $1 Million Fine For Her Role.

In 2014, Bank Of America Was Ordered To “Pay More Than $1 Billion In Fines For The Hustle Loan Sales,” And Rebecca Steele Was Required To “Pay A Fine Of $1 Million.” “In 2014, a federal judge ruled that Bank of America was required to pay more than $1 billion in fines for the Hustle loan sales, despite the government seeking more than $2 billion. The judge also ruled that Steele was required to pay a fine of $1 million.” [Jeremiah Jensen, “Rebecca Steele, the ‘face of the housing crisis,’ finds new home at nonprofit credit counselor,” HousingWire, 07/19/18]

Ultimately, A Federal Court Of Appeals Threw Out The Fines.

Ultimately, A Federal Court Of Appeals Threw Out The Fines Against Bank Of America And Rebecca Steele As The “Government Did Not Prove That Countrywide And Steele Committed Fraud When They Sold Toxic Mortgages To Fannie And Freddie.” “But then the Court of Appeals ruled in Bank of America’s and Steele’s favor and threw out the fine against each. The court ruled that the government did not prove that Countrywide and Steele committed fraud when they sold toxic mortgages to Fannie and Freddie.” [Jeremiah Jensen, “Rebecca Steele, the ‘face of the housing crisis,’ finds new home at nonprofit credit counselor,” HousingWire, 07/19/18]

Tim Welsh Is An Executive At U. S. Bank, Which Was Fined $528 Billion In 2018 For Anti-Money Laundering Program Violations, Including Violations Connected To Infamous Payday Loan Shark Scott Tucker.

Tim Welsh Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board.

Tim Welsh Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board. [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

Tim Welsh “Is The Vice Chairman Of Consumer And Business Banking At U.S. Bancorp”

Tim Welsh “Is The Vice Chairman Of Consumer And Business Banking At U.S. Bancorp.” “Tim Welsh is the Vice Chairman of Consumer and Business Banking at U.S. Bancorp. In this role, Tim leads a team of more than 30,000 colleagues and oversees the company’s overall consumer and small business strategy and product management functions, branch network, mortgage, and all consumer lending.” [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

Just Last Year, US Bank Was Fined $528 Billion For Anti-Money Laundering Program Violations Tied To The Bank’s Work With Infamous Payday Loan Shark Scott Tucker.

In 2018, US Bank Was Fined $528 Billion For Violations Of The Bank Secrecy Act.” “Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Criminal Charges Against U.S. Bancorp For Violations Of The Bank Secrecy Act; Charges to Be Deferred For Two Years Under an Agreement Requiring U.S. Bancorp to Admit Its Conduct and Pay Penalty of $528 Million.” [Press Release, “Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Criminal Charges Against U.S. Bancorp For Violations Of The Bank Secrecy Act,” US Department of Justice, 02/15/18]

  • The Fine Was Based, In Part, On The Banks’ Failure To Report Suspicious Transactions By Scott Tucker, Despite “Being On Notice That Tucker Had Been Using The Bank To Launder Proceeds From An Illegal And Fraudulent Payday Lending Scheme.” “From October 2011 through November 2013, the Bank willfully failed to timely report suspicious banking activities of Scott Tucker, its longtime customer, despite being on notice that Tucker had been using the Bank to launder proceeds from an illegal and fraudulent payday lending scheme using a series of sham bank accounts opened under the name of companies nominally owned by various Native American tribes (the “Tribal Companies”). From 2008 through 2012, Tucker’s companies extended approximately five million loans to customers across the country, while generating more than $2 billion in revenues and hundreds of millions of dollars in profits.  Most of this money flowed through accounts that Tucker maintained at the Bank.” [Press Release, “Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Criminal Charges Against U.S. Bancorp For Violations Of The Bank Secrecy Act,” US Department of Justice, 02/15/18]

Sophie Raseman Is The Head Of Financial Solutions At The Employee Personal Finance Management Platform Brightside, Which Receives Funding From Comcast Ventures.

Sophie Raseman Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board.

Sophie Raseman Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board. [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

Sophie Raseman Heads “Financial Solutions For Brightside,” The “Employee Financial Health Platform” That Provides Financial Assistants And Helps Individuals Manage Their Money.

Sophie Raseman Is In Charge Of “Financial Solutions For Brightside,” A “Venture-Backed Startup.”“Sophie Raseman is Head of Financial Solutions for Brightside, a ventured-backed startup helping employees take control of their financial lives.” [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

  • Brightside, Through “Financial Assistants” Helps Individuals Manage Their Money “From Accessing Emergency Cash To Consolidating Credit Card Debt And Managing Student Loans.” “With our Financial Assistants, Brightside helps people make the right money moves – from accessing emergency cash to consolidating credit card debt and managing student loans.” [Take a breath – We’ve got this, Brightside, 10/10/19]
  • Brightside Is An “Employee Financial Health Platform.” [Press Release, PR Newswire, 05/07/18]

 Brightside Is “Funded By Comcast Ventures And Trinity Ventures.”

 “Brightside was founded in 2017 and is funded by Comcast Ventures and Trinity Ventures.” [Press Release, PR Newswire, 05/07/18]

Sam Elamawy Is CEO Of Loan Servicer Scratch.

Sam Elamawy Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board.

Sam Elamawy Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board. [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

Sameh Elamawy Is The CEO Of Scratch, A Servicer For Student And Personal Loans.

Sameh Elamawy Is The CEO Of Scratch. [Sameh Elamawy Profile, LinkedIn, accessed 10/09/19]

  • Scratch Is A Servicer Of “Student Loans And Personal Loans” But “Borrowers Do Not Sign Up” For The Service, Instead They Get “An Email From Scratch Inviting Them To Participate.” “Scratch services student loans and personal loans, though it plans to expand to mortgages and other types of debt in the future. Borrowers do not sign up for the service directly but instead receive an email from Scratch inviting them to participate.” [Jeff John Roberts, “Scratch Raises $17 Million to Make Loan Payments Less Awful,” Fortune, 09/17/18]

Ronald Johnson Is A “Strategist And Investment Management Consultant” Who Has Also Worked In Higher Education.

Ronald Johnson Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board.

Ronald Johnson Is A Member Of The CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board. [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

Ronald Johnson Describes Himself As A “Strategist/Investment Management Consultant.”

Ronald Johnson Describes Himself As A “Strategist/Investment Management Consultant.” [Ronald A. Johnson Profile, LinkedIn, accessed 10/10/19]

Ronald Johnson Previously Served As The President Of Clark Atlanta University From July 2015 To December 2018.

Ronald Johnson Previously Served As The President Of Clark Atlanta University From July 2015 To December 2018. [Ronald A. Johnson Profile, LinkedIn, accessed 10/10/19]

Ronald Johnson Also Held Several Positions At Other Universities And Has “Executive Experience” In Investment Management.”

Ronald Johnson Also Held Several Positions At Other Universities And Has “Executive Experience In The World Of Investment Management.” “Prior to joining CAU, he was the Dean of the J. H. Jones School of Business at Texas Southern University. He also served as Dean at Western Carolina University. He previously taught & developed innovative curriculum at Florida A&M; Northeastern University; and, Howard University, as well as TSU. Dr. Johnson’s leadership is fortified by his executive experience in the world of investment management. He is the former President & CIO at Smith Graham & Company,& is an active board member of several civic & educational organizations.” [Consumer Advisory Board Member Biographies, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, October 2019]

From 1999 – 2005, Johnson Was “President and Chief Strategist” at Investment Advisor Smith Graham And Company. [Ronald A. Johnson Profile, LinkedIn, accessed 10/10/19]

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