Nominee for credit union regulator board advances after criticism from panel’s top Democrat

The nomination of a new member to the board of the federal regulator of credit unions was recommended for confirmation by the Senate Banking Committee Wednesday, but only after receiving some opposition by the panel’s Democrat members.

The nomination of Kyle Hauptman, now a staff member for Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), to be a member of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board was recommended on a split voice vote by the Banking Committee. No roll call was taken. However, during the voice vote, “nos” from some members of the committee were audible.

Earlier, the committee’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) – after saying he would support two other nominees for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – indicated his concern about Hauptman’s nomination before the vote was taken. He was the only Democrat on the committee to speak (following opening remarks by Chairman Mike Crapo [R-Idaho], the only Republican on the committee to speak).

In the brief video, Sen Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) expresses his concern with the nomination of Kyle Hauptman to be a member of the NCUA Board.

“I’m concerned about his experience or lack of experience and qualifications or lack of qualifications, to be one of the top regulators of credit unions in this country,” Brown said in his statement, noting the nominee would oversee 5,000 credit unions that serve 120 million Americans.

The Ohio Democrat asserted that in both Hauptman’s testimony and in written responses to the committee members, the nominee did not provide any detail about what types of policies he would advocate for as a member of the credit union regulator’s board.

“He says technology can help people left behind by our banking system,” Brown charged, adding that Hauptman failed to provide any examples of how that would be accomplished. “Instead of laying out specific ideas to help credit unions and their members, Mr. Hauptman praises Netflix as an example of the benefits of innovation, calling it the ultimate solution to block Blockbusters’ (video rental) late fees.”

“Big tech companies dominate the market in a way that Blockbuster could never dream of, driving smaller companies out of business and amassing huge amounts of personal data,” Brown added. He charged that Hauptman failed to recognize that innovation is often “just a shiny new way to exploit workers and target consumers with the same predatory products and services.”

“If his previous work in positions are any indication, he will be another advocate for rolling back important financial safeguards,” Brown said. “Another voice is this committee too often is for the powerful and the privileged who have more than their share of influence already. We need public servants who will serve the public, especially now if confirmed.”

Chairman Crapo, in his opening remarks, said simply of Hauptman that “NCUA plays a critical role in regulating chartering and supervising federally insured credit unions. Mr. Hauptman’s confirmation will ensure that the agency is able to continue to provide much needed flexibility for credit unions to manage liquidity and to lend to households and businesses.”

The nominees for the SEC seats were also approved by the committee, also by voice vote. During the vote, no “nos” were audible.

The nomination now heads to the full Senate for consideration; no date has yet been set for a vote.