CFPB chief’s equal-opportunity calendar

By Kate Berry, American Banker

In her first four and a half months on the job, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger was no stranger to Capitol Hill, holding in-person meetings with lawmakers more than twice as often as her predecessor did during a similar time frame.

Kraninger, who has been at the helm of the agency since December, met in person with 16 members of the House or Senate from Dec. 11 through the end of April, most of them in the lawmaker’s office. The meetings, posted as part of her public schedule that is available on the CFPB website, were held with 10 Republicans and six Democrats.

Yet her schedule, part of a planned “listening tour” to hear from various stakeholders, suggests a concerted effort to meet with members from both parties, as well as a diverse array of consumer advocates, bankers and trade group representatives.

Kraninger has had direct contact with the Democratic and Republican leaders of both the Senate Banking and House Financial Services committees, as well as former Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the two primary authors of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Referring to a former boss in the Clinton administration, CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger remarked, “He liked to say there were no Democratic roads or Republican highways.”

Still, observers say Kraninger’s one-on-one meetings with members of Congress are notable for the head of an agency that is supposedly nonpartisan. During an equivalent time frame in 2012, former CFPB Director Richard Cordray, appointed under President Barack Obama, met face-to-face with only seven lawmakers. Yet his slate of meetings was less bipartisan since all seven were with Democrats.

Meanwhile, Kraninger met with 13 individual bankers, five more than Cordray during a similar time frame. Kraninger’s meetings with bank executives included one on April 16 with interim Wells Fargo CEO C. Allen Parker. She has also held several meetings with trade group CEOs and staffs.

“An hour meeting with one senator or one banker means they’re getting much more attention,” said Dory Rand, president of Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based advocacy group, who met with Kraninger both in person and as part of two larger group meetings on Feb. 5.

Yet Rand was just one of dozens of consumer advocates with whom Kraninger met.

While it is unclear whether such “meet and greet” sessions result in any changes to policy, it is informative to know who has had the CFPB director’s ear.

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