President Donald Trump has chosen Kathy Kraninger, a little-known White House budget aide, as director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, an administration official said.
If approved by the Senate, Kraninger would succeed her boss, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who’s led the consumer watchdog part-time since November.
“She will bring a fresh perspective and much-needed management experience to the BCFP, which has been plagued by excessive spending, dysfunctional operations, and politicized agendas,” White House spokeswoman Lindsey Walters said in a statement.
Walters termed Kraninger “a staunch supporter of free enterprise” who would continue reforms started by Mulvaney “and ensure that consumers and markets are not harmed by fraudulent actors.”
What’s likely to be a difficult confirmation process could take months, and Mulvaney has said he expects to be at the bureau until the end of the year. Progressive groups have suggested the choice of Kraninger is a ploy to keep Mulvaney in the job longer.
The bureau is one of the most politically divisive agencies in Washington, hailed as a regulatory crown jewel by Democrats while maligned by Republicans, new-car dealers and major lenders as a bastion of government overreach and waste. Its broad framework was created by Elizabeth Warren, now a Democratic senator representing Massachusetts, after the global financial crisis a decade ago, to protect consumers from financial abuse.
Kraninger joined the Office of Management and Budget as an associate director in 2017, and has overseen the budget for financial regulators -- experience that the White House believes will be beneficial in her new role.
She previously worked for the Department of Homeland Security and in various roles -- also mostly with a homeland security focus -- on Capitol Hill, including on the staff of Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is chaired by Republican Richard Shelby of Alabama. Collins and Shelby are likely to be key allies in Kraninger’s confirmation effort.
Kraninger would inherit an agency that’s been roiled by a shift to Republican leadership under Mulvaney from its roots as a scourge of financial firms under Obama administration appointee Richard Cordray, a Democrat now running for governor of Ohio.
Mulvaney has been praised by Republican lawmakers for reining in an agency they saw as unaccountable, while liberals, led by Warren, have accused him of dismantling the bureau and putting consumers at risk.
As acting director, Mulvaney has conducted a top-to-bottom review of the agency’s enforcement, supervisory and rule-making functions. He’s frozen data collection in the name of security, and dropped enforcement cases.
Kraninger is a 2007 graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, according to her LinkedIn profile, and before that graduated from Marquette University. She grew up in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
One of the biggest challenges she would face is managing the agency’s more than 1,600 employees, many of whom have grown increasingly worried about keeping their jobs as Mulvaney has directed his advisers to find ways to significantly cut next year’s budget. Steps being considered include relocating staff to places such as Dallas, reorganizing workers and eliminating some departments.
The White House has been considering candidates for the bureau post for months, and was eager to find someone with government-management experience, people familiar with the process said.
Others on the short list were said to include Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, who’s retiring after his current term, and J. Mark McWatters, who was tapped by Trump in 2017 to run the National Credit Union Association. Todd Zywicki, a George Mason University law professor who’s testified regularly on Capitol Hill where he criticized the bureau, was also considered, people familiar with the matter have said.