Newly confirmed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra has chosen two attorneys for enforcement and supervision policy leadership posts who have extensive backgrounds in fair lending and protection of low-income and immigrant workers—areas of emphasis for the agency’s enforcement of consumer protection laws.
Eric Halperin, an attorney and longtime consumer advocate with two stints with the Department of Justice in its Civil Rights Division, will serve as assistant director for the CFPB’s Office of Enforcement, according to a press release Friday.
Since 2017, Halperin was CEO of the Civil Rights Corps, according to his LinkedIn profile. Before that, he was a senior advisor for Open Society Foundations, a group founded by billionaire George Soros.
From 2010-14, Halperin served in leadership roles in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, focusing on fair lending, fair housing, and employment enforcement programs. He also served the division as a trial attorney from 1998-2004.
The Civil Rights Corps is a D.C.-based nonprofit organization that its website describes as being “dedicated to challenging systemic injustice in the United States’ legal system.” Open Society Foundations, according to its website, is the “world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights.”
It is from this perspective Halperin will be leading the CFPB’s Office of Enforcement in its mission of “enforcing federal consumer financial laws and holding financial service providers accountable for their actions.”
Observers predict the CFPB under Chopra will be more aggressive than under the two previous directors who served during the Trump administration. Chopra will be an “incredibly aggressive consumer protection advocate” who “will measure the CFPB’s success by the size of its fines and the breadth of its enforcement actions,” experts said. That aggressive posture will be present as Chopra pursues President Joe Biden’s policy goals, which include cracking down on unfair and deceptive practices in consumer lending, mortgage and student loan servicing, credit, banking, and other financial services.
Recently, Chopra indicated the CFPB will place emphasis on how financial institutions use automation to churn out decisions on whether to grant loans or offer other kinds of financial products, as well as about how Big Tech firms collect and monetize data.
Also Friday, Chopra named attorney Lorelei Salas as the CFPB’s assistant director for supervision policy. She will also serve as the acting assistant director for supervision examinations.
From 2016-21, Salas was commissioner of the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, which under her leadership, “aggressively pursued corporations that employed unlawful, predatory practices to target low-income and immigrant consumers,” the CFPB said in its press release.
She has also worked in the Department of Labor under the Obama administration as a wage and hour administrator, as well as serving as head of legal for the nonprofit Make the Road New York and for Catholic Migration Services.
“Lorelei Salas and Eric Halperin are both distinguished public servants with deep expertise in consumer protection,” said Chopra in a statement. “Together, they will be effective watchdogs over the financial marketplace, especially when it comes to stopping repeat offenders.”