Tuesday, April 5, 2011, 5:06 PM

Ms. Warren....or Marshall Dillon

Posted by: Chris Jones
For for the unindoctrinated, visiting your grandparents' homes may have been more about sitting on plastic covered sofas or eating crumpets with tea. You would have no idea who these two heros pictured to the left are. For me, it was a steady stream of Gunsmoke (and Clint Eastwood, but that is a different post entirely)...and the venerable Marshall Matthew Dillon. A law man with fast hands, whose words were his bond and whose principles were unassailable. Fast forward now from the '50s, '60s and '70s (yes, for those of you who thought that Cheers, Friends, E.R. and N.Y.P.D. Blue had good runs, try a show that aired for twenty years on television (and nine separately on the radio)) all the way to 2011, where we find that our newest most venerable "sheriff," Elizabeth Warren of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is being criticized for allowing the CFPB to participate in some manner in the separate federal and State investigations into mortgage lenders and servicers who are embroiled in the mortgage documentation investigation regarding practices such as "robosigning." It seems that Ms. Warren appeared before the House Financial Services Committee and testified that the CFPB had a lesser role in the investigations than it may have (a "lack of role" that we here at BB&R can embrace insofar as the State investigations are based almost exclusively on State law that is not only "not federal," but often is specific to the particular State and different amongst them). That was all fine, until some on the Committee learned that the CFPB is actually being consulted by federal agencies such as the DOJ and FBI in connection with mortgage servicing related investigations and also being consulted by the 50 State A.G. coalition. For her part, Ms. Warren's reaction was at least as tough as Marshall Dillon's would have been, while being as coy as an undercover Andy Sipowicz. As reported by The Hill, she wrote a letter responding to her critics in which she bluntly explained the principles and ideals behind the CFPB involvment, but declined to explain precisely what that involvement is, due to ongoing nature of the investigations. Okay, so no one really gets to mislead Congress, no matter how easy or well-intentioned it may be, but that isn't what captured our attention. And, anyone who is seriously complaining on the one hand about effective information sharing between and amongst the fledgling CFPB and federal agencies such as the DOJ and FBI whist bruising their knees jumping on the bandwagon of similar information sharing where terrorism is concerned....well, they should just consider being quiet--but that isn't what caught our attention either. What caught our attention is the implicit acknowledgment in all this that is relevant to BB&R, mortgage services and every single person in the consumer finance industry and/or who practices law in the world of consumer finance...what caught our attention is the fact that the Designated Transfer Date is still over 100 days away, and the CFPB and State Attorneys General appear to already be effectively cooperating, sharing information and consulting one another toward a common end--and without any real indication of thought by Ms. Warren or anyone on her still growing team of clammering for credit (of course, with no announcement in the States' A.G.s' investigations and negotiations, it is to early to formally conclude that there is actually credit to share...but there will be). Is this the first cooperative effort? And, can we gauge the likely success of future interaction and cooperation by this effort? We'll see. Oh, and for those of you who are lucky enough to know of Gunsmoke, I've learned this of Ms. Warren: Festus, she's not.


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