House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters has sent a letter to CFPB Director Kraninger raising questions about the potential appointment of Thomas G. Ward as CFPB’s Assistant Director for Enforcement.  

In her letter, Ms. Waters stated that, according to media reports, Mr. Ward is the leading candidate for the Enforcement Director position and that he currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General overseeing the torts branch in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice.  (As Ms. Waters observed in her letter, the Bureau has not had a permanent Enforcement Director since Kristen Donoghue’s departure in May 2019.)

Ms. Waters stated that the job description posted on the Bureau’s website had indicated that Enforcement Director is an excepted service position.  She asserted that “federal law prohibits the appointment of individuals to the excepted service based on political affiliation” and that a February 2018 memorandum sent by the acting director of the Office of Personnel Management to the heads of all executive departments and agencies “reiterate[ed] that ‘political appointees . . . must not be given preference or special advantages . . . [and that] OPM requires agencies to seek our approval prior to appointing any current or former political appointee to a permanent position (without time limits) in the civil service.’”  She further asserted that the memorandum also explicitly stated that an agency must obtain written authorization from OPM before appointing a current political appointee to a non-political excepted service position (such as Enforcement Director).

According to Ms. Waters, Mr. Ward’s potential selection for Enforcement Director “raises serious concerns about whether the Consumer Bureau has adhered to civil service laws and OPM guidance governing the hiring of political appointees into career positions.”  She asked the Bureau to provide certain information and records by January 7, 2020.