Senators claim acting comptroller has overstayed his term

A half dozen Democratic senators – including Banking Committee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (Ohio) – want the acting comptroller of the currency to be investigated for illegally overstaying his term at the helm of the national bank regulator.

According to a letter sent Monday to Treasury Inspector General Eric Thorson from the Democratic senators, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika has stayed in his office about a month longer than legally allowed. The senators – Brown, Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Robert Menendez (N.J.), Jack Reed (R.I.) and Catherine Cortez-Masto (Nev.) – contend that Noreika is required to become a permanent federal employee over step down from his appointed position after 130 days.

However, there are two different points of view about how 130-days limitation is counted. The senators contend the limitation refers to calendar days (which was Sept. 12). Others contend the limitation only counts working days, which would give the acting comptroller about 30 more days to keep his seat without stepping down, or becoming a permanent federal employee.

Noreika was appointed to his role as acting comptroller in May, filling the seat left empty after the five-year term of Comptroller Thomas Curry ended, and he stepped down that same month. Noreika is an attorney who practiced federal banking law in Washington for 20 years before being named acting comptroller; he had no previous government experience.

Joseph Otting has been nominated to a five-year term (ending in 2022) as permanent comptroller; his nomination was recommended to the full Senate for confirmation last month. Otting’s confirmation is pending in the Senate.

As acting comptroller, Noreika sits on both the Federal Stability Oversight Council (FSOC, which coordinates federal financial regulation) as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) board.

Letter from six Democratic senators about term of appointed, acting Comptroller of the Currency