BOSTON – Democrat Elizabeth Warren, the one-time credit union foe and the creator of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was elected to the U.S. Senate yesterday, defeating Republican incumbent Scott Brown.

Warren, who fought the credit union lobby for many years over bankruptcy reform, and later over her brainchild, a consumer protection agency for financial products, won election nevertheless with the endorsement of the state’s credit union lobby, even though none of the major credit union groups, neither CUNA or NAFCU, contributed to her campaign.

But Brad Thaler, senior lobbyist for NAFCU, said his group is ready and willing to work with Warren. NAFCU, he noted, has met with the consumer advocate several times since she was appointed by President Obama in 2010 to develop her idea of a financial protection agency into the CFPB. “She’s always been open to us and understands and respects credit unions, even though we don’t always see eye-to-eye on all the issues,” Thaler told the Credit Union Journal last night. “Remember, she agreed to speak at (the annual NAFCU Congressional) Caucus right after she was appointed by the President (as special advisor developing the new consumer bureau).”

Warren, a Harvard professor on bankruptcy law, was chairman of the national commission on bankruptcy reform in the 1980’s and opposed the credit union and bank-backed bill for a means-based bankruptcy law. Later, she went toe-to-toe with credit unions on the consumer financial agency, which was opposed by the credit union lobby.

Warren’s Senate run was precipitated when Republican senators who are opposed to the consumer bureau, told President Obama they would not confirm her as director of the new agency if she was nominated. So she agreed to leave Washington and run for the Senate in Massachusetts, where Brown had been elected two years ago to succeed Senate icon Ted Kennedy.

Now, Warren will join her Republican nemesis as a Senate colleague when the new Congress meets in January.


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