Eight Maine Organizations Join U.S. PIRG and Consumers Union

Posted Dec. 07, 2011, at 3:56 p.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Eight Maine organizations joined US PIRG and the Consumers Union to urge Senator Senator Snowe and Senator Collins to support the nomination of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as the director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The eight organizations include Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Small Business Coalition, Engage Maine, Maine Center for Economic Policy, The Coastal Enterprise Institute, Maine Equal Justice, Maine AFL-CIO, and We Who Care. The Senate is expected to vote on the Cordray nomination as early as this Thursday, December 8.

The effort to confirm Cordray has been held up in Congress by a group of Senators, including Senator Snowe and Senator Collins, who have pledged to oppose any nominee to head the new consumer watchdog. The Senators opposing the Cordray nomination are seeking changes to the CFPB that would weaken its ability to protect consumers. Opposition to the nomination is preventing the CFPB from exercising its full powers to protect consumers, according to the groups, which also sent a letter to the Senators.

“The stalemate over Richard Cordray’s nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is leaving seniors, students, servicemembers, veterans and other consumers at risk to costly financial scams,” said Pamela Banks, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, the non-profit advocacy arm of Consumer Reports.

“Families across Maine and America are looking to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to protect their savings and investments from the abuses that led to the worst recession since the Great Depression,” said MECEP Executive Director Garrett Martin. “Attorney General Cordray has the expertise, standards and unblemished record that we can trust to diligently and aggressively safeguard the assets we rely upon to send our kids to college, retire with dignity and assure our economic security. Senators Snowe and Collins have a strong record of putting the public interest first and we urge them to vote to confirm this distinguished nominee.”

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As Attorney General, Cordray recovered over $2 billion for consumers and communities in Ohio who lost money and their financial security from shady Wall Street investments, deceptive financial products, and wrongful foreclosures. Recently, 37 state Attorneys Generals on a bi-partisan basis sent a letter to the Senate urging his confirmation.

The CFPB was created by the Wall Street reform law passed by Congress last year and is working to make sure financial companies provide consumers with the information they need to understand the true costs and risks of different financial products. It has been charged with identifying and stopping unfair, deceptive, and abusive financial practices and keeping the rules governing financial service products up-to-date.

Without a director, the CFPB is not able to exercise its full authority to oversee non-bank financial institutions like payday lenders, debt collectors, check cashers and certain mortgage lenders who target vulnerable consumers. “It’s time for Congress to set aside politics and confirm Richard Cordray so the CFPB can fully protect consumers,” said Ilya Slavinski, Federal Field Associate for U.S. PIRG. “At a time when millions of Americans are struggling to stay afloat, opponents of the CFPB are standing in the way of the kind of tough oversight we need to protect consumers from financial rip-offs.”

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