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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

September 20, 2012 at 6:30 AM

McKenna won’t join Republican opposition to federal consumer bureau

UPDATE: 3:03 p.m. — Post updated to note report of McKenna’s opposition to the creation of the consumer agency in 2010.

According to a Bloomberg article, some Republican attorneys general are refusing to cooperate with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the watchdog agency created as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act regulating Wall Street.

Some Republican AGs told Bloomberg they’re refusing to sign a proposed memorandum of agreement with the new agency out of objection to its powers. A couple have even said they’ll file a lawsuit as soon as this week challenging the constitutionality of the Dodd-Frank Act and the power it granted the new agency.

That may sound a little like the GOP efforts to block another signature legislative accomplishment of President Obama – the Affordable Care Act. Republican Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna famously joined that controversial lawsuit – a point of contention in his gubernatorial campaign against Democrat Jay Inslee.

But as for the consumer bureau, McKenna’s office said Wednesday he has no plans to join the Republican efforts to block the watchdog agency, whose creation he opposed.

“We’re generally supportive of, and working with, the CFPB,” said Janelle Guthrie, a McKenna spokesperson in the Attorney General’s office.

Guthrie said a top consumer-protection attorney with McKenna’s office has been assigned as a liaison to the agency. And she noted McKenna signed a letter with many other state AGs in support of the nomination of Richard Cordray as the agency’s director.

That’s a change from McKenna’s stance in 2010, when he reportedly opposed the creation of the new federal agency, according to a National Public Radio story.

The Bloomberg piece said a number of AGs have refused to sign a memorandum of agreement Cordray has asked for with states regarding the sharing of confidential among the states and the bureau. The agreement is viewed as key to the CFPB’s ability to partner with states nationally. To date, Bloomberg said, only a dozen or so states have signed the agreement – all but one of them represented by Democratic attorneys general.

A few Republican AGs have said publicly they are refusing to sign, out of disagreement with the consumer agency’s powers.

McKenna, too, has not yet signed the agreement, but Guthrie said his office is not aware of receiving a formal, final copy of the proposed memorandum.

“In theory I think we would be open to signing it,” she said.

Comments | More in Attorney General, Governor, homepage, Politics Northwest | Topics: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, governor, Jay Inslee

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