The Justice Department’s Gene Kimmelman, a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Antitrust Division, is in the running to head the new consumer financial protection agency created by the financial regulation bill, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
The new agency is designed as an independent unit within the Federal Reserve and is tasked with protecting borrowers from abuses in mortgages and credit cards.
Kimmelman is one of three candidates, the Post reported. Elizabeth Warren, who currently serves as the watchdog for the bank bailout, is a favorite of some to head the agency.
But Warren’s stint at the congressional panel overseeing the bailout has been a controversial one — fraught with frequent clashes with Treasury and congressional officials — which leaves open the possibility that either Kimmelman or assistant Treasury secretary Michael S. Barr might land the new top spot.
One frequent criticism of Warren is her lack of experience with government and dearth of deep relationships with other agencies and those on Capitol Hill. Kimmelman, who currently serves as a political adviser to Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney, does not have that problem.
He spent spent much of his career — 14 years — as a consumer advocate and lobbyist at Consumers Union in Washington, D.C., where he cultivated expertise in telecommunications and media issues. He previously worked on Capitol Hill, as as chief counsel and staff director for the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee.
Before working in the Senate, he served as legislative director at the Consumer Federation of America for 10 years.
Kimmelman started his career at another public interest group, Congress Watch, where he fought against a push to repeal the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the early 1980s.