Obama nominates former prosecutors to top regulatory positions

Richard Cordray

Richard Cordray

President Obama recently named Mary Jo White, the first female U.S. attorney in Manhattan, to head the SEC and re-nominated Richard Cordray as director of the CFPB.

White spent more than 10 years as a top federal prosecutor in New York City and oversaw the prosecution of crime boss John Gotti, as well as the trials of individuals responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. Cordray, a former prosecutor for Ohio, helped bring lawsuits against Bank of America and AIG, DealBook reports.

“It’s not enough to change the law,” Obama said, according to DealBook. “We also need cops on the beat to enforce the law.”

While White is best known for her work as a prosecutor, consumer advocates have voiced concern regarding her experience defending Wall Street executives and her lack of experience in the financial regulatory sector.

White, a Kansas City native, received a master’s degree in psychology before obtaining her law degree from Columbia University in 1974. She went on to serve as a U.S. attorney in Manhattan, which earned her a reputation as an aggressive prosecutor. She helped secure a $340 million fine against Daiwa Bank for illegally covering up trading losses, and she supervised the original investigation into Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Cordray’s re-nomination may also face some problems after the Senate refused to confirm his nomination during Obama’s previous term. Republicans have said that Cordray has expansive power and that the CFPB’s funding should be subject to the congressional appropriations process, DealBook reports.

Cordray, a five-time “Jeopardy” champion, was nominated to the position of CFPB director in 2008 after losing a bid for re-election as Ohio’s state attorney general.

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