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CFPB Fills Leadership Roles amid Uncertain Future

Ahead of what could be some big changes for the CFPB during the incoming Trump administration, the agency has announced new appointments to several leadership positions, including:

  • Leandra English is returning to the CFPB to serve as the chief of staff. English previously served in a number of senior leadership roles at the bureau, including deputy chief operating officer, acting chief of staff and deputy chief of staff. Most recently, she served as the principal deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
  • Jerry Horton has been named to the role of CFPB chief information officer. Horton previously worked at the Department of State, where he started and led the office of the chief architect for state’s global information presence. Prior to that, Horton was the chief information officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
  • Paul Kantwill will serve as the CFPB’s assistant director for servicemember affairs. Kantwill comes to the bureau from the Pentagon, where he served as director for the office of legal policy, office of the undersecretary of defense, personnel and readiness. Kantwill was the Department of Defense’s legal policy expert on the financial industry and the effects financial products and services had on military members and their families.

The CFPB has named John McNamara as assistant director of consumer lending, reporting and collections markets. A 30-year veteran of the debt collection industry, McNamara previously served in the same capacity in an acting role, and before that was the debt collection program manager at the bureau.

Finally, Elizabeth Reilly has been appointed as the CFPB’s chief financial officer. Reilly previously served as the deputy chief financial officer at the bureau, joining as one of the agency’s first employees in 2010. Prior to joining the CFPB, she was a program examiner and acting branch chief at the Office of Management and Budget.

“The mix of experience and talent this group brings will provide great value to the bureau as we continue to work on behalf of consumers everywhere,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray.

The appointments come ahead of what could be a tumultuous time for the CFPB. President-elect Donald Trump has long expressed his dislike for the Dodd-Frank Act—the legislation that led to the agency’s creation—holding it up as an example of the over-regulation he has blamed for strangling economic growth. Meanwhile, several lawmakers in the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress have set their sights on the CFPB, including Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who in September introduced a bill that would significantly limit the bureau’s power, replacing the position of director with a five-member commission, repealing its ability to ban products or services it deems abusive and annulling its authority to prohibit arbitration, among other measures.

The CFPB also is fighting a legal battle in federal court over its leadership structure. In October, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals declared the structure of the bureau is unconstitutional because it’s led by a single director who can only be removed by the president for just cause. The agency in November filed a motion for an en banc rehearing of the case before the entire appellate court. The court has yet to decide if it will grant the request. On Dec. 22, the U.S. Solicitor General filed a response with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit supporting the CFPB’s request for an en banc hearing. PHH—the mortgage lender plaintiff in the suit against the CFPB—also filed a response with the court opposing the CFPB’s request and asserting that the panel’s constitutionality ruling is fully consistent with Supreme Court precedent “and more than two centuries of separation-of-powers jurisprudence.”

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