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Alston & Bird Lands Departing CFPB Deputy Johnson

Feb. 25, 2020, 3:31 PM

Alston & Bird LLP is set to add the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s second in command in the coming weeks.

CFPB Deputy Director Brian Johnson, who notified the CFPB of his departure in an internal email Feb. 18, will be joining the Atlanta-based firm in early March, Alston & Bird said Tuesday.

Johnson will be a partner in the firm’s Washington office beginning March 9.

“Brian’s impressive combination of experience and leadership in government regulation and oversight in the financial services industry is second to none,” Chris Frieden, Alston & Bird partner and co-chair of the firm’s Financial Services & Products Group, said in a statement to Bloomberg Law.

Johnson did not respond to a request for comment.

Politico first reported Johnson’s departure from the CFPB on Feb. 18.

Sharp Turn

Johnson joined the CFPB in December 2017 as part of the initial wave of Republican hires at the bureau after the departure of former Director Richard Cordray, who was appointed by President Barack Obama. Johnson worked for former House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), a fierce CFPB opponent, and was brought on board by Cordray’s successor, former acting director Mick Mulvaney.

Johnson served as the acting deputy deputy under Mulvaney and was officially named to the No. 2 spot in May 2019 by the current CFPB director, Kathleen Kraninger.

Johnson’s tenure at the CFPB saw a dramatic ratcheting back of its enforcement and regulatory work, as well as a major restructuring of its internal operations.

The CFPB rolled back its October 2017 payday lending rule, proposing to rescind borrower ability-to-repay requirements that were part of the original rule, during Johnson’s time at the bureau. There also has been a significant drop in the number and size of enforcement actions.

The CFPB also restructured its internal operations during Johnson’s tenure. The bureau’s fair lending office lost its enforcement powers and was moved under the direct supervision of the CFPB director’s office, among other moves. The CFPB has yet to bring a fair lending enforcement action since Kraninger became director in December 2018.

-- With assistance from Lydia Beyoud

To contact the reporter on this story: Evan Weinberger in New York at eweinberger@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Ferullo at mferullo@bloomberglaw.com

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