CFPB's hiring of former DOJ official could raise ire of Capitol Hill

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday announced the hiring of Thomas G. Ward as its enforcement chief, an appointment likely to draw criticism from House Democrats.

The selection of Ward — who formerly held a politically appointed position at the Department of Justice — was one of five personnel moves announced by the agency.

Ward's hiring had attracted a rebuke from House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., even before it was official. Waters has claimed that naming Ward to be the bureau's assistant director for enforcement — a civil service job — would violate federal law because he has served as a political appointee in the Trump administration.

Appointing Ward “raises serious concerns about whether the Consumer Bureau has adhered to civil service laws and [Office of Personnel Management] guidance governing the hiring of political appointees into career positions,” Waters said in a letter in December to CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger.

Separately, Susan Bernard, a former director of the Office of Regulations and Policy at the Food and Drug Administration, was named the CFPB's assistant director for regulations. Bernard, who has expertise in rule-writing, joined the bureau last year.

In addition, Donna Roy a former executive director of information sharing and services at the Department of Homeland Security, was named chief information officer. A Marine Corps veteran, Roy has expertise in "innovative solutions for identity management, national scale collaboration and trust platforms, and scalable data infrastructure solutions to customers within a dynamic environment," the CFPB said in a press release.

Also, Rachelle Vaughan was named chief procurement officer. She had been director of procurement services for the Corporation for National and Community Service, a government agency that operates AmeriCorps and other national service initiatives.

And David Wernecke, a CFPB section chief in the Consumer Response Product Office, was named to a new role as Chief Experience Officer.

Ward was a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's civil division. He had previously been a partner at Williams & Connolly for nearly 20 years.

Before his appointment, the enforcement head's job was vacant since May, when former enforcement head Kristen Donoghue left the bureau to join Capital One. Since then, Cara Petersen has been serving as acting enforcement chief.

The news of Ward's hiring comes just after the departure of David Silberman, who had been the No. 2 at the CFPB under former Director Richard Cordray. Silberman most recently was associate director of research, markets and regulations.

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Enforcement Enforcement actions Career moves Kathy Kraninger Maxine Waters CFPB House Financial Services Committee