Democrats cry foul on new acting OCC head

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WASHINGTON — Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee are raising concerns that a move by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to replace former Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry with acting comptroller Keith Noreika was done to circumvent Senate vetting.

"President Trump has not named a nominee for this position. Yet you have chosen to replace the current head with an acting head who is unvetted, has obvious conflicts of interest, and lacks the experience to run an agency that employs almost 4,000 individuals and oversees over 2,000 national banks, both large and small,” wrote the senators, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada.

The letter comes a week before Mnuchin will testify before the banking panel and only a few days after Noreika was sworn in as acting comptroller. The move was unusual in that Noreika did not previously work at the agency. The Democrats’ letter included a list of questions about what powers comes with position.

“Will there be any limits on his duties and authorities as Acting Comptroller of the Currency?” they asked. “Why wasn’t Mr. Noreika simply nominated for the position of Comptroller?”

The Trump administration has struggled to fill key posts at various agencies and reportedly has run into procedural roadblocks in filling positions at the Federal Reserve Board.

Curry’s term expired in April, and rather than keeping him as comptroller, Mnuchin used an expedited process to make a leadership change.

The Democrats objected to the move, saying, “We see no reason to disrupt the agency’s operations by replacing a strong, independent leader like Comptroller Curry with an untested outsider who has not been confirmed by the Senate.”

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Thomas Curry Keith Noreika Steven Mnuchin Elizabeth Warren Sherrod Brown OCC