Obama nominates two chief regulators

Updated Jan. 24, 2013 at 3:11 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- President Obama nominated two regulatory chiefs Thursday to take charge of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Obama chose former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White to serve as chairwoman of the SEC and Richard Cordray to continue as head of the CFPB.

Obama introduced White in a lighthearted manner, saying she was "a big fan of the Hardy Boys," when she was young, adding, "I was, too, by the way."

He then said White had "built a career the Hardy Boys could only dream of."

White is a former federal prosecutor who litigated high profile terrorist cases, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York and the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa. She also took on "white-collar criminals and money launderers," Obama said, adding, "in the early 1990s, she brought down John Gotti, the head of the Gambino crime syndicate."

"As one former SEC chairman said, Mary Jo 'does not intimidate easily,'" the president said.

Obama said the country needed to press forward with financial reform and that he was "absolutely confident that Mary Jo has the experience and the resolve to tackle these complex issues."

White said if confirmed by Congress "I would welcome the opportunity to lead," in efforts "to protect investors and to ensure the strength, efficiency, and the transparency of our capital markets."

Obama praised Cordray for leading the CFPB in its first year, a position he took on an interim basis as Republicans refused to confirm his appointment the first time around.

"Over the past year, Richard proved to be a champion of American consumers," Obama said.

"Financial institutions have plenty of lobbyists looking out for their interests. The American people need Richard to keep standing up for them," Obama said.

"We understand that our mission is to stand on the side of consumers -- our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters -- and see that they're treated fairly," Cordray said.

The CFPB is a new agency born of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul act. White would take over the SEC from Mary Schapiro, who was charged with pulling the SEC through the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008.

Before Schapiro took over, the SEC was accused of being asleep at the wheel, missing several cues to stop infamous Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff and failing to prevent abuses that contributed to the financial crisis.

The CFPB is carving its niche in the regulatory landscape.

The bureau has created new lending rules and initiated steps to control debt collectors. "Thanks to his (Cordray's) leadership, we've made it tougher for families to be tricked into mortgages they can't afford," Obama said.

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