Still without a proper director, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has just unveiled its site which prominently features Professor Elizabeth Warren. One problem: Warren isn't CFPB's director, and by having a special page for her calendar and other information available via the CFPB website, she's implying leadership of an agency to which she's never been nominated or confirmed.
The website dedicates even more space to her bio, describing her career at length, and even goes so far as to suggest that Warren is “establishing” the bureau:
Her mission in establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is to give American families tools to make the choices that are right for them.
She didn't establish the CFPB. Congress established it in the Dodd-Frank bill. And because she's unwilling to let anyone else do the work, she had President Obama appoint her as a special assistant to the Treasury Secretary in order to work on creating the bureau.
I've previously detailed the problems with Warren “establishing” a bureau she doesn't run:
She is an adviser to the Treasury secretary, which only has interim authority to “perform the functions of the Bureau … until the Director of the Bureau is confirmed by the Senate in accordance with section 1011.” It’s hard to think that Congress intended for this to happen indefinitely.
And what’s section 1011 say anyway? That the director of the CFPB is “appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate” for a term of five years, meaning that it’s currently the Headless Horseman of the marketplace. In fact, only the director of the CFPB can delegate authority, and further, that the statutory requirements CFPB has to fulfill can pretty much only be fulfilled by the director.
Now, prior to the “transfer date,” the various agencies that will eventually merge into CFPB can continue making rules and conducting business. The Office of Thrift Supervision will still be doing its Thrift Supervision. And if Geithner wants to make a few tweaks, he’s within his own rights.
Either she gets confirmed, or she backs off. But as it stands, she may be breaking the law by continuing to put herself at the for front of an agency that's not even her own.