Thursday, September 8, 2011

Senator Mark Kirk’s Efforts to Weaken New Consumer Agency Bad for Illinois Consumers

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For Immediate Release:                                             Press Inquires:
September 8th, 2011                                                     Brian Imus, Illinois PIRG, 312-399-3834
Dory Rand, Woodstock Institute, 312-368-0310
Karen Harris, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, 312-263-3830

Senator Mark Kirk’s Efforts to Weaken New Consumer Agency Bad for Illinois Consumers

The landmark Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently took over as the nation’s chief regulator of financial institution compliance with consumer laws – mortgages, credit cards and other bank loans, including overdraft fees. Despite strong public support for the new bureau, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk is one of just a few Senators who have taken several positions that would undermine and weaken the new consumer protection agency.

Illinois Senator Mark Kirk is one of 44 U.S. Senators to sign a letter to President Obama opposing any nominee to head the bureau until the bureau’s power is first weakened.  He also co-sponsored legislation that would weaken the new bureau and legislation that would completely repeal the Dodd-Frank Act, eliminating the new consumer protection bureau. He is one of only 6 Senators who have taken the extreme position of signing the letter and sponsoring both rollback bills.

“All three positions taken by Senator Kirk benefit Wall Street banks and the business-as-usual approach to regulating financial institutions that caused the economic mess we face today,” said Brian Imus, Director of Illinois PIRG.

The President nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, the current enforcement chief of the Bureau, as the CFPB’s first director. He’s already received strong support from Ohio papers and praise from the current Republican Attorney General of Ohio, Mike DeWine, who had defeated him. The Bureau will not have its full authority to protect consumers in the financial marketplace until a director is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

“Despite signing a letter with other Senators opposing any nominee until the bureau is weakened, I hope Senator Kirk will evaluate Attorney General Cordray based on his qualifications,” said Dory Rand, president of Woodstock Institute. “Opposing any director for the new bureau, regardless of qualifications, isn’t in the interest of Illinois consumers.”

A recent poll shows that an overwhelming majority of likely voters both support a new consumer agency (74%) and want Wall Street held “accountable” (77%). 

“It’s critical that the Bureau has the ability to effectively enforce our financial protection laws. That’s why it’s important for Illinoisans to know where Senator Kirk stands,” said Karen Harris with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. “We encourage Illinoisans to let Senator Kirk know that they want him to prevent the banking lobby from weakening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

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For more information on how consumers will benefit from the CFPB, please read Ten Reasons We Need the CFPB. For information on the importance of confirming Richard Cordray, please download this fact sheet

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