Sen. Elizabeth Warren's pick as a new financial regulator is a staffer of hers married to an attorney at a firm representing the very big banks he would regulate, and whom Warren loves to chastise.
Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, is reportedly supporting the nomination of her senior banking counsel Bharat Ramamurti to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Ramamurti's wife, Paige Ammons, is a defense lawyer who practices before the SEC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the brainchild of Warren.
Ramamurti is a contender to fill one of the SEC's three vacancies, according to a report from Reuters. That report also cited a source claiming that Warren is "staunchly backing" his nomination.
Ramamurti's wife Ammons is a counsel at Washington law firm Buckley Sandler. According to the firm's website, Ammons "represents corporate and individual clients in civil and criminal enforcement cases, including white collar criminal defense matters, securities enforcement defense, and environmental criminal defense."
"I represent corporate and individual clients in civil and criminal enforcement cases," Ammons writes on her LinkedIn page, "including white collar criminal defense matters, securities enforcement defense...." Ammons touts her experience "navigating investigations brought forth by government agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)."
A Washington Post article in 2011 noted that Buckley Sandler's clients have included Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, BB&T and J.P. Morgan Chase, nearly all of which have faced sharp criticism from Warren in recent years.
Legal 500 describes Ammons' employer as "a destination firm for entities engaged in CFPB investigations."
Legal 500 goes on to characterize the firm as "the gold standard for consumer finance regulatory work", praising Buckley Sandler's work for "clients engaged in CFPB examinations, investigations and enforcement actions...."
If the Reuters report is accurate, Warren is working to place the husband of a lawyer whose firm represents the big banks her spouse's boss regularly decries on the SEC. Per Reuters' description, the SEC is "the primary regulator that polices and writes rules for Wall Street."
Reuters also reported on Ramamurti's extensive involvement in Warren's work regarding financial regulatory policy. "As her counsel on the banking committee, Ramamurti has played a prominent role in shaping Warren's policy agenda," the article said. "He helped steer her investigative efforts into the Wells Fargo fake accounts scandal and worked on bipartisan efforts to broker a deal on housing reforms for mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac."
This regulatory work of Ramamurti overlaps heavily with Ammons work as an attorney. Ammons, on LinkedIn touts her "[R]epresentation of former senior executive of Freddie Mac in securities fraud investigation by SEC regarding financial disclosures of mortgage losses, resulting in Staff's decision not to recommend enforcement action."
Also relevant, Ammons mentions her work "[r]esponding to a general CFPB mortgage lending examination on behalf of a California-based mortgage originator."
Even if Warren is not backing her aide for the SEC vacancy, his work in Warren's office and his wife's work at Buckley Sandler raise enough questions on their own.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.