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By Jeff Mason and Michelle Price
WASHINGTON, June 16 (Reuters) - The White House said on Saturday that President Donald Trump will pick Kathy Kraninger, an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official, to head the U.S. consumer watchdog, drawing criticism from consumer advocates and dividing conservatives.
Kraninger will succeed her boss, the interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Mick Mulvaney, if the decision is approved by the Senate.
“She will bring a fresh perspective and much-needed management experience to the (bureau), which has been plagued by excessive spending, dysfunctional operations, and politicized agendas,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement.
Kraninger, who has a law degree and previously worked at the Department of Homeland Security and as a Congressional staffer, did not immediately respond to a LinkedIn message seeking comment on Saturday.
Trump appointed Mulvaney, who also runs the OMB where he works closely with Kraninger, as temporary head of the CFPB in November to replace Richard Cordray, an appointee of former President Barack Obama.
During his six months at the helm the former Republican Congressman has overhauled the agency, which was conceived to stamp out abusive lending after the 2007-2009 financial crisis, restructuring departments, shelving new regulations, and dropping cases against payday lenders.
At the OMB, Kraninger has worked on financial policy issues for the CFPB, Treasury, and other regulators, and has extensive experience managing large teams in government, according to one person with direct knowledge of her role.
But consumer groups and conservatives alike were quick to criticize the announcement, with both sides questioning whether she was qualified and saying she may struggle to gain Senate approval as a result.
Allied Progress, a left-leaning consumer group, said Kraninger’s nomination was an attempt by Mulvaney to keep a grip on the agency, adding that she had “no relevant experience.”
J.W. Verret, an associate professor at the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School and financial regulation expert, said in an email that Kraninger was regarded in conservative Republican circles as very “smart,” but he also pointed to her lack of consumer finance experience.
Other conservatives argued that Mulvaney had a strong track record of picking good managers, and said he would not have backed her if he doubted her capability.
“Whether you agree with Mulvaney politically, there is no doubt he has been a highly effective manager in government and since he’s worked closely with her he must know she is qualified,” said Dina Ellis Rochkind, a lawyer at Paul Hastings and former Congressional staffer who worked for Republican lawmakers. “But the big test will be how she performs in her Senate confirmation hearing.” (Reporting by Jeff Mason and Michelle Price; Additional reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by David Gregorio and Daniel Wallis)