Consumer watchdog candidate Elizabeth Warren pays another visit to White House

By Brady Dennis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 8, 2010; 9:11 PM

Elizabeth Warren slipped quietly into Washington on Tuesday to talk with President Obama about the possibility of leading the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, according to people familiar with the meeting.

An administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the visit had not been publicized, acknowledged that Warren met with Obama but noted Wednesday that the president is still considering multiple candidates for the job.

Other contenders indeed have emerged - namely Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael S. Barr - but Warren is easily the most high-profile and most polarizing among them.

The financial overhaul bill signed into law in July gives Obama the authority to appoint a director of the new consumer bureau to a five-year term, subject to Senate confirmation. The agency will have the power to write and enforce rules governing credit cards, mortgages and other loans.

Warren met about the position last month with top Obama advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod. She again fueled speculation last week when she pulled out of a law class she was scheduled to teach this fall at Harvard.

Warren had not been expected back in the nation's capital until later this month, when the Congressional Oversight Panel, which she chairs, will release its latest report on the government's $700 billion bailout fund.

A White House official confirmed Warren's visit Tuesday but did not elaborate on the substance of the talks.

"Elizabeth Warren is a respected advocate and she was meeting at the White House," said spokeswoman Amy Brundage said, "but no decision has been made about the consumer agency."

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that he knew of no imminent plan to name a bureau chief, but added, "I can't rule out that at some point that may come during the week."

A spokesman for Warren declined to comment.

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