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Published: Wednesday, 10/19/2011

Over 30 state officials call on Congress to OK Cordray as consumer bureau chief


WASHINGTON -- More than 30 state attorneys general from both parties called on the Senate Tuesday to confirm former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head a new consumer financial-protection agency.

In a letter to Senate Democratic and Republican leaders, the state officials wrote, "We are united in our belief that Mr. Cordray is very well qualified to carry out the responsibilities of this position."

Although 10 Republicans signed the letter, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine declined. In an interview, Mr. DeWine reiterated his belief that Mr. Cordray was "very well qualified and would do an excellent job," but he said he has been reluctant to send letters to his former colleagues in the Senate and House.

Mr. DeWine served two terms in the Senate from 1995 through the end of 2006.

The letter was signed by 32 state attorneys general and the attorneys general of the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Marianas Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

President Obama nominated Mr. Cordray last summer to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is to regulate a wide array of consumer financial products, such as home mortgages and credit-card offers.

"We believe he has the knowledge, experience, and leadership skills to serve in this important position," the officials wrote. "He is both brilliant and balanced."

The Senate Banking Committee this month approved Mr. Cordray's nomination by a 12-10 vote. Forty-four Senate Republicans, including Rob Portman of Ohio, have vowed to block any nominee for director until the White House agrees to modify the power of the new agency.

Senate Republicans want the director to be replaced by a five-member board, and they insist that Congress have the power to approve the agency's budget each year.

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