Consumer czar Elizabeth Warren giving face time to industry

WASHINGTON Thu Nov 25, 2010 9:52am EST

Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren in Washington September 17, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren in Washington September 17, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Elizabeth Warren has been on what looks like a diplomatic mission, meeting with some of the biggest names in the financial industry since becoming President Barack Obama's chief adviser on consumer issues in late September.

On Wednesday Warren's office released a copy of her calendar that shows her shuttling between media appearances, meetings with bank CEOs and get-togethers with lawmakers as she attempts to set up and sell the public on the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, scheduled to launch in July.

The release of Warren's calendar comes two days after Republican lawmakers complained that the Treasury Department, which is handling the set-up of the agency, is not being transparent about the activities of Warren and other bureau officials. They noted other regulators are releasing information about meetings they have had with industry officials.

As of December 31 the Treasury Department will do the same for officials at or above the deputy assistant secretary level, a department official said. That information will then be released on a monthly basis.

For an example of how Warren has spent her days, take October 4.

Warren took a train from Washington to New York, where she met with Citigroup chief executive Vikram Pandit for 30 minutes in the morning and the New York Times editorial board for 45 minutes in the afternoon before making an appearance on CNN later in the day. She then headed back to Washington.

The financial industry vehemently opposed the creation of the bureau, arguing it could strangle profits through over-regulation; but it lost that battle when the financial reform law was enacted in July. Warren is credited with coming up with the idea for the agency and industry officials have cast a wary eye on her as well.

Warren's calendar, however, shows top executives have not had trouble getting time with her to make their case.

Between September 20 and November 2 Warren met or had phone calls with about a dozen top executives from large banks and other financial firms.

Among those to get time with the new consumer czar over the past two months are JPMorgan Chase & Co Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, Wells Fargo & Co Chief Executive John Stumpf, US Bancorp Chief Executive Richard Davis and American Express Co Chief Executive Kenneth Chenault.

Warren has made clear one area the agency will focus on is credit cards, and on October 13 Chenault came to Washington for an hour-long meeting with Warren. Her calendar notes: "He's flying here for us."

She has also held meetings or phone calls with the heads of several industry lobbying groups, such as the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the Financial Services Roundtable and the American Bankers Association.

(Reporting by Dave Clarke, Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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