A year after returning to Massachusetts from Washington to launch her US Senate campaign, Elizabeth Warren is trying to boost her candidacy by highlighting one of the jobs she’s already held in the capital.
The Democrat has been celebrating the first anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and lauding its recent enforcement action against a major credit card company, saying it was just the type of work she envisioned the bureau would do for everyday people.
She also released a radio ad calling attention to the agency and her connection to it.
“We need a cop on the beat to make sure no one steals your purse on Main Street and no one steals your pension on Wall Street,” Warren says in the spot.
The bureau was created by a 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulatory act. President Obama tapped Warren to set it up, but he decided against nominating her to serve as its inaugural director last July after Republicans threatened to filibuster over their demands to change the way it is financed and structured.
Instead, Warren returned to Massachusetts and soon plunged into her campaign. She is now locked in a hotly contested race against Republican Senator Scott Brown, and her involvement in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has become a campaign trail talking point.
It is one of two stints for her in government service, having previously served as chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, as the Globe highlighted in a report Sunday.
Both roles have allowed the Harvard Law School professor to reach beyond the bounds of academia to show how she would work in the political and governmental arena.
Brown and national Republicans have repeatedly complained about one aspect of Warren’s Washington tenure, a reluctance by the Congressional Oversight Panel to be transparent about its operations.
On at least one occasion, Warren voted against releasing the panel’s budget and meeting transcripts even as she led a group that clamored for transparency from the US Treasury as it spent $700 billion from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP.
Warren told the Globe last month that she was following the example of similar boards and commissions she surveyed.
“And now, so far as I know, everything is public or can be made public,” she said during the interview.
The Massachusetts Republican Party asked in a web video focused on the topic: “What is she hiding?”
Warren is seeking to reclaim for the Democrats the seat held for nearly a half-century by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Brown stunned the party in January 2010 when he won the special election to succeed him.
During a July 17 appearance at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Warren invoked Kennedy’s name in the context of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“He had just one question,” Warren said of Kennedy. “He said, ‘What will it do for working families?’ And I said ‘It won’t fix everything, but it will repair a big hole in the bottom of the economic boat. It could make a real difference.’ And he looked back at me and he said ‘I’ll do it.’”
Kennedy was an original co-sponsor of legislation filed in March 2009 to create the bureau.
On July 18, Warren issued a statement highlighting the bureau’s enforcement action against Capital One, a major credit card company.
Capital One agreed to refund consumers $140 million and pay a $25 million penalty after the agency investigated it for deceptive and misleading marketing practices on credit cards.
It was the CFPB’s first public enforcement action.
“I’m proud that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has stood up for middle class families by holding a major credit card company, Capitol One, accountable for deceptive practices,” Warren in a statement. “The new consumer agency is only one-year old, but it is fearless. It will hold accountable the largest financial institutions and try to make sure that even the biggest banks follow the rules.”
A day later, Warren issued a release cheering the agency for its work on behalf of senior citizens, including announcing it was investigating the way older Americans are exploited financially.
On July 23, Warren’s campaign issued another press release calling attention to a report by the bureau and the US Department of Education about “the risky practices and debt resulting from the private student loan market’s recent boom and bust cycle.”
Warren said in a statement: “I’m proud that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has stood up for young people who have played by the rules and want to invest in their future. We should be helping our kids get an education by making it easier to see the costs of borrowing, so they don’t face a mountain of debt after they leave school.”
On July 24, the campaign issued a press release noting the bureau would begin supervising credit reporting agencies on Sept. 30.
“Credit reports affect what families pay for mortgages, credit cards, and insurance. Consumers deserve to know that someone in Washington is looking out for them,” Warren was quoted as saying.
A day after that, her campaign released its radio ad focused on the bureau.