The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has a new student loan watchdog, and his appointment is raising questions about who is safeguarding the interests of student borrowers.
Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, who helped create the CFPB, sent a scathing letter on Thursday to the bureau’s current director. In documents obtained by NPR, Warren called the appointment of Robert Cameron “an outrageous slap in the face to student loan borrowers across the country.” Warren also sent letters to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and directly to Cameron, writing “your employment history presents an irresolvable conflict of interest that will prevent you from being able to serve as an effective Student Loan Ombudsman.”
The watchdog job has been vacant since last summer, when the CFPB’s previous student loan ombudsman resigned in protest, arguing that the Trump administration was not doing enough to protect student borrowers.
Cameron, the newly appointed ombudsman, is a U.S. Army veteran and a staff judge advocate for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. But here’s the part of his resume that has Warren so incensed: Before taking the long-vacant job, Cameron was a top lawyer for one of the country’s largest student loan servicers, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, known as PHEAA. There, according to the CFPB’s announcement, Cameron was “a high-ranking official responsible for litigation, compliance, and risk mitigation efforts.” PHEAA manages more than $400 billion of student loan debt, most of it for the U.S. government, and has been the target of considerable criticism, including for its handling of a troubled student loan forgiveness program and a grant program that hurt thousands of public school teachers. […]