- The Washington Times - Friday, September 17, 2010

President Obama on Friday formally tapped Harvard Law Prof. Elizabeth Warren as a “special adviser” tasked with setting up a new consumer watchdog agency, sidestepping a thorny Senate confirmation battle and drawing the ire of Republicans.

Ms. Warren, who had been serving as head of the investigative board that oversees the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, is a hero to many progressives but is viewed coolly by financial firms turned off by her harsh rhetoric surrounding their role in the recession.

That’s likely one of the reasons Mr. Obama opted not to name Ms. Warren director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as that position would require Senate confirmation — something that even Democrats, including Sen. Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, have said may not be possible. Instead, she will take the lead in establishing the new regulator, serving as a special adviser to Treasury Sec. Timothy Geithner and a special assistant to Mr. Obama.

Elizabeth is the best person to stand this agency up,” the president, who met Ms. Warren in law school, told reporters in the Rose Garden.

But the move drew a quick rebuke from Republicans, who described it as an affront to transparency.

“In making this appointment, the President bypassed the Senate confirmation process,” Republican Reps. Darrell Issa and Spencer Bachus wrote in a letter to the White House general counsel Friday. “Furthermore, by giving Professor Warren responsibilities at both the White House and the Treasury Department, he is undermining Congressional oversight while giving her substantive authority over the CFPB. This is unprecedented.” 

Ms. Warren did not speak and Mr. Obama did not answer questions shouted by reporters asking why chose to bypass the Senate.