U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Ohio’s senior U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown went to bat for consumer protections during his weekly conference call last Wednesday, criticizing attempts in the House to dismantle Wall Street reforms that would undermine the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Regarding President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, Brown tweeted, “Now more than ever, we need an independent investigation into Russian ties to ensure American people can have full confidence in findings.”

Brown also released a statement noting that Comey’s tenure as FBI Director had been marred by questionable judgment but adding that he wants to learn more about the reasons behind this removal.

“The president firing the FBI Director in the middle of an investigation into the White House’s ties to Russia raises serious questions about the independence of the FBI and the integrity of the ongoing investigation,” Brown said. “The president must nominate a replacement with an independent record that is beyond reproach. Now more than ever, we need an independent investigation into Russian ties to ensure the American people hae full confidence in the findings.”

On his conference call Wednesday, Brown told reporters he’ll fight against the Trump Administration to preserve rules put in place following the 2008 financial crisis to protect working people from Wall Street abuses. Brown focused his comments on a vote last week by the House Financial Services Committee to advance a sprawling Wall Street giveaway that would dismantle the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. 

A bill sponsored by House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) would roll back consumer protections and gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has to date returned almost $12 billion to 29 million Americans who have been cheated by shadowy debt collectors, for-profit schools, and payday lenders.

“Too many in Washington and on Wall Street seem to have amnesia about the devastation the Great Recession wreaked in communities across the country – but most Ohioans don’t have that luxury,” said Brown. “The House bill is a massive giveaway to megabanks and payday lenders, and would dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. These are the wrong priorities for Ohio. We need to improve the law, not turn the clock back to the days when Wall Street was free to prey on Ohioans, wreck the economy, and hand taxpayers the bill.”

Brown, the ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, condemned efforts by Congress and the Trump Administration to undermine key Wall Street reforms.

According to information provided by the senator’s office, Brown helped lead an amicus brief filed with a federal appeals court in support of the CFPB’s current structure as an independent agency. The brief outlined how Congress decided after the 2008 financial crisis to design the CFPB as an independent agency with a single director to protect consumers’ interests and respond quickly to changes in the marketplace. The brief also underscored that Congress placed numerous checks on the director’s powers to ensure accountability.

President Trump has sought to fire Richard Cordray, the head of the CFPB. While the White House might want that outcome, some Republicans want to keep Cordray in Washington instead of back in Ohio where, he might become a candidate for the open seat of governor in 2018.

Last month, Brown applauded action by the CFPB against Ocwen Financial Corp. The CFPB alleges that Ocwen, one of the nation’s largest nonbank mortgage servicers, for years “engaged in significant and systemic misconduct at nearly every stage of the mortgage servicing process.”

Ocwen has been the subject of several enforcement actions and more than 23,000 CFPB complaints, including 675 complaints from Ohioans. Brown released a breakdown by county of complaints filed by Ohioans. A consumer complaint database can also be found here.

Brown joined with colleague and fellow Democrat U.S. Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island in urging fellow Senators to ensure that the CFPB remains a strong, independent agency so it can continue to safeguard military families and veterans from financial abuse.

In a letter to their Senate colleagues, Brown and Reed noted that the CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs has handled more than 70,000 complaints from servicemembers and provided financial education at 148 military facilities nationwide.