Notice anything different? We’re wearing new hats today — figuratively, although it is hat weather — as the new Washington office of GrayRobinson. GrayRobinson is a full-service law and lobbying firm with offices throughout the State of Florida and in Washington, DC. The firm’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, emerging businesses, lending institutions, local and state governments, developers, entrepreneurs and individuals. We look forward to putting this new alliance to work for clients of The Eris Group. (PS—Future issues of The Golden Apple will come from firstname.lastname@example.org, so please add that address to your contacts list.)
Crapo sets Senate Banking agenda — Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, outlined his agenda for the committee in the 116th Congress this week. Topping the list is housing finance reform, including action on a proposal Chairman Crapo unveiled today. The committee will also work on bipartisan measures to “encourage capital formation, reduce burdens for smaller businesses and improve corporate governance;” to give consumers more control over and better protection for their personal data collection and use; to “explore targeted reforms” of laws governing credit reporting; to improve the regulatory landscape for fintech; and to renew expiring programs, including the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Export-Import Bank, and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The Committee will also exercise its oversight authority over the administration of Russian sanctions, and consider appropriate reforms to anti-money laundering and beneficial ownership rules. Oversight of the federal banking agencies will remain on the Committee’s agenda, as will ways to encourage tailored regulation and discourage financial companies from making credit decisions in order to advance political agendas.
Crapo housing reform plan would privatize GSEs, run securitization through Ginnie Mae — Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo outlined a plan for housing finance reform today that he said would protect the taxpayer, preserve the 30-year fixed rate mortgage, increase competition, and promote access to affordable housing. The plan would privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and sell their multifamily businesses to independent private guarantors. Guarantors, including Fannie and Freddie, would guarantee the timely repayment of principal and interest to investors in eligible mortgages securitized on a platform operated by Ginnie Mae. Ginnie Mae would provide a “catastrophic government guarantee,” backed by a mortgage insurance fund (MIF) funded through premiums on the guarantors. A new Market Access Fund would replace current affordable housing goals and duty-to-serve requirements with grants, loans, and credit enhancements for underserved and low-income communities. The proposal would also replace the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Administration with a bipartisan board of directors. In a written statement this afternoon, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called the proposal “a productive first step.”
House approves three financial services bills — The House of Representatives passed three financial services bills this week under suspension of the rules: HR 624, the Promoting Transparent Standards for Corporate Insiders Act; HR 502, the FIND Trafficking Act, which directs the GAO to investigate and report on the use of virtual currencies in sex and drug trafficking; and HR 56, the Financial Technology Protection Act, which would establish an Independent Financial Technology Task Force to Combat Terrorism and Illicit Financing. None of the bills has a Senate counterpart yet.
House Financial Services makes subcommittee assignments — The House Committee on Financial Services held its first meeting of this Congress on Wednesday, to adopt Committee rules and appoint subcommittee members. As noted in last week’s Golden Apple, several subcommittees have new names this year, and Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) created a new Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion. Republicans named their ranking members to the Subcommittees:
“CRA regulations cannot be one-size-fits-all,” says Brainerd — Although the Federal Reserve Board did not join the OCC in last year’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on reforms to the Community Reinvestment Act, the Fed does see the need for modernization and tailoring, Governor Lael Brainerd said today at the Philadelphia Fed’s Research Symposium on the Community Reinvestment Act. The Fed sees CRA as “a critical tool” for supporting low- and moderate-income families and communities, and Brainerd said that letters to the Fed on CRA reform had shown that support for the law is “broad and deep.” Commenters have stressed the need to tailor CRA regulations for banks of different sizes and business models, and Brainerd said that the Fed also sees the need to improve consistency and predictability of CRA evaluations and ratings.
CFPB answers FAQs about TRID — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has posted answers to four frequently asked questions about the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule (TRID). Three of the questions deal with corrected closing disclosures and the three business-day waiting period before consummation; one addresses whether and when model forms can provide safe harbors. As always, the Bureau cautions that these answers are not substitutes for official interpretations.
Confirmations, nominations, departures, etc. — The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the nomination of William Barr to be Attorney General next Thursday, February 7.
Next Week in Washington:
February 5 — Senate Finance Committee votes on four nominations, including those of Michael Faulkender to be an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, Jeffrey Kessler to be an Assistant Secretary of Commerce, and Michael J. Desmond to be Chief Counsel for the Internal Revenue Service and an Assistant General Counsel in the Department of the Treasury. 10:15 a.m., SD-215 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
February 5 — President Donald Trump addresses both houses of Congress on the state of the union. 9:00 p.m., US Capitol.
February 6 — Senate Special Committee on Aging holds a hearing on “Financial Security in Retirement: Innovations and Best Practices to Promote Savings.” 9:30 a.m., SD-562 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
February 6 — Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation holds a hearing on “Winning the Race to 5G and the Next Era of Technology Innovation in the United States.” 10:00 a.m., SD-G50 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
February 7 — The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology holds a hearing on “Preserving an Open Internet for Consumers, Small Businesses, and Free Speech.” 11:00 a.m., 2322 Rayburn House Office Building.
The Ellis Insight. Jim Ellis reports on political news:
Former Vice President Joe Biden: Leading in all national polling for both the Democratic nomination and against President Trump, Ex-VP Joe Biden says he is getting closer to making a decision about running but will still ultimately decide whether to launch a new national campaign in the very near future.
Sen. Cory Booker: Early news stories are reporting that New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is informing colleagues that he will formally announce his presidential campaign.
Jeff Flake: Former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), now a CBS News commentator, publicly confirmed that he will not be running for President next year. Speculation previously occurred that he was testing the waters toward challenging President Trump for the GOP nomination.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has decided that he, too, will not enter the Democratic presidential foray. It is still likely we will see Democratic candidates numbering well into double-digits, but the actual number of active candidates may end up being closer to 18-20 rather than 23-25.
Howard Schultz: Starbucks former CEO Howard Schultz publicly clarified his presidential status. He confirms considering becoming a candidate, but, if he moves forward, it will be as an Independent because of his increasing disgust with the two major political parties.
Jill Stein: Green Party 2016 and ’12 presidential nominee Jill Stein, who successfully requested post-election recounts of the close Great Lakes States until it became obvious that no major counting errors were present in the last election, announced that she will not become a candidate in 2020. She received just 1.1% of the national popular vote in 2016, and 0.4% in 2012.
Rep. Eric Swalwell: California Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) continues to say he is considering entering the presidential contest. Though a minor candidate who would not be a serious threat to win the Democratic nomination, Mr. Swalwell did offer a newsworthy comment. While he could run both for President and his House seat should his national nomination quest be unsuccessful, the Congressman said he would not seek re-election to the House if he ultimately becomes a presidential candidate.
William Weld: Former Massachusetts Governor and ex-Libertarian Party Vice Presidential nominee Bill Weld indicated that he is planning on becoming a Republican nomination opponent to President Trump and will make an official declaration announcement on February 15th. He refused to extrapolate any further in order to avoid “spoiling” his address.
Colorado: Former state Senator Mike Johnston (D), who finished third in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary with 23.5% of the vote, announced that he will enter the US Senate primary field next year. The winner claims the opportunity of challenging Sen. Cory Gardner (R) in the general election. Mr. Johnston joins former state House Speaker and congressional candidate Andrew Romanoff and two minor candidates at this point in the Democratic primary.
Democrats still hope to convince former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) to run, but he appears intent on entering the presidential campaign in March.
Georgia: In a further effort to recruit former gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams into the race to challenge Sen. David Perdue (R) next year, the party brass at the behest of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), invited her to present the national Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union Address. Ms. Abrams continues to maintain that she will make a decision about whether to undertake a Senate campaign sometime in March.
New Hampshire: Any doubt that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) would seek a third term has now been dispelled. Yesterday, Sen. Shaheen announced that she will stand for re-election in 2020. Because New Hampshire is the quintessential swing state, the race must be viewed as competitive even though no GOP competitor has yet come forward to declare a challenge.
North Carolina: Early this week, state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Beaufort) announced that she will enter the Democratic US Senate primary in hopes of winning the opportunity of challenging Sen. Thom Tillis (R). Already in the race is Mecklenburg County Commissioner at-large Trevor Fuller (D). State Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte) is also expected to soon enter. So far, however, no statewide official has indicated a preference to enter the Senate race. The North Carolina contest is viewed as highly competitive heading into 2020.
Texas: A newly released Atlantic Media & Research survey conducted earlier in January (for Courageous Conservatives PAC; 1/5-11; 504 TX registered voters) finds Sen. John Cornyn (R) posting healthy re-election numbers when tested against former US Representative and 2018 US Senate nominee Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso), though the sample appears to have a right-of-center skew.
According to the results, Sen. Cornyn would lead Mr. O’Rourke, 50-37%, which seems a bit of a stretch considering the latter man’s close finish with Sen. Ted Cruz (R) last November. Additionally, O’Rourke’s favorability numbers (28:44% positive to negative) are not consistent with other post-election polling.
Utah: Salt Lake County Councilor Jenny Wilson (D) challenged Sen. Mitt Romney (R) for the Utah’s open US Senate seat last November, and fell to him, 31-63%. But, she now has a new political position, nonetheless. The Salt Lake County Democratic leadership has appointed her as the local Mayor to replace Ben McAdams (D), who was elected to Congress.
Because the Democrats previously controlled the vacant position, state succession law allows the party leaders to name a replacement. Mayor Wilson will be able to run for a full term as Salt Lake County’s chief executive in 2020.
GA-6: Two weeks ago, state Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) filed a federal campaign committee presumably to become a congressional candidate, opposing freshman US Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta). During the middle of last week defeated Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell) indicated that she is seriously considering seeking a re-match with the new Congresswoman who outpaced her in November by less than a percentage point.
Earlier, former state Sen. Judson Hill (R), a former congressional candidate, again acknowledged himself as a potential contender. Additionally, Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann and Alpharetta City Councilman Ben Burnett are also reported as potential GOP candidates. With this much action so early in the new election cycle, it is clear that this formerly Republican district will be a major GOP conversion target next year.
GA-7: In November, Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) and former state Senate committee staff director Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) battled to the closest vote spread in the country, a 419-ballot difference tipped in the Congressman’s favor. So far, 2018 candidate David Kim and Democratic activist and attorney Marqus Cole have come forward to publicly express interest in running, and now the Atlanta Journal Constitution issued a story saying that Ms. Bourdeaux is eyeing a political comeback.
It is evident that in the coming election, Rep. Woodall will take his 2020 challenger more seriously than he did in the early part of the previous election cycle.
MO-1: With the most liberal Democratic faction already saying they want to force 2020 primary challenges against veteran party office holders, at least one more looks to be a certainty. Nurse Cori Bush, who fell to Missouri Rep. Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis) by a 57-37% count last August, says that she will run again in 2020. Ms. Bush spent just under $150,000 for her primary battle against Rep. Clay, but her chances of attracting greater resources for the next campaign appear enhanced.
NV-4: Nevada former state Assemblyman Jim Marchant (R) has filed a 2020 congressional political committee with the Federal Election Commission, signaling he is preparing to challenge Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) next year. Mr. Horsford was first elected in 2012 but defeated for re-election two years later by Republican Cresent Hardy, who Democrat Ruben Kihuen then unseated in 2016. In the 2018 open seat, Mr. Horsford returned to the House, this time defeating Mr. Hardy when Rep. Kihuen declined to seek re-election due to sexual harassment allegations.
NY-2: Political action among Democrats and Republicans looks to be stirring on the South Shore of Long Island. 2018 Democratic nominee Liuba Grechen Shirley, who lost to Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford/Babylon), 52-46%, is reportedly considering running again next year. But, rumors are beginning to surface that suggest Rep. King, who will be 76 years old before the next election, is considering retirement from Congress. If so, a prime candidate to replace him would be his daughter, Hempstead Town Councilmember Erin King Sweeney (R). As an open seat, the 2nd District would become highly competitive.
NY-11: Freshman New York Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island) unseated Rep. Dan Donovan (R-Staten Island) in November scoring an upset victory. We can be assured of a very active 2020 political contest in this district. Former Representative and convicted felon Michael Grimm (R) has already indicated that he will run again. During the week, state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) filed a campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, suggesting that a multi-candidate Republican primary is a likelihood.
PA-12: Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) just resigned from the House, and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has called the special election to fill the vacancy for May 21st, concurrent with the state’s municipal primary. Each political party will now meet in convention to choose a special election nominee. Those selected will face each other in a plurality election, with the winner serving the balance of the current term. Republicans will be favored to hold what should be a safe GOP district.
Kentucky: Gov. Matt Bevin (R), working to overcome poor approval ratings as he heads into a 2019 re-election campaign, has now officially filed for re-election. But, Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton will not be Gov. Bevin’s choice to continue in her current position should he win re-election. His new running mate is state Sen. Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester).
Now that the 2019 candidate filing deadline has past we know that US Rep. James Comer (R-Tompkinsville), who lost the 2015 statewide Republican gubernatorial primary to Mr. Bevin by just 83 votes and had been openly contemplating running for Governor again, will not be a gubernatorial candidate.
Gov. Bevin will face state Rep. Robert Goforth (R-East Bernstadt) and two minor candidates in the Republican primary while Attorney General Andy Beshear, former state Auditor Adam Edelen, state House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook), and economist Geoff Young comprise the field of candidates doing battle for the Democratic nomination. The Kentucky primary is set for May 21st. The state does not utilize a run-off system. This year’s general election is scheduled for November 5th.
Louisiana: A new LJR Custom Strategies survey conducted for the Education Reform Now advocacy group (1/14-27; 600 LA likely voters), a supporter of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), finds the first-term state chief executive way ahead of his two current prospective Republican opponents.
According to the LJR results, Gov. Edwards leads Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and land developer Eddie Rispone (R), 45-17-4%, if the state’s jungle primary were held in the present time frame. But, this respondent group consisted of 53% self-identified Democrats, 34% Republicans, and 13% unaffiliateds. Typically, the Louisiana electorate has a much different complexion. On the other hand, a December poll from Remington Research conducted for Rep. Abraham found that he and Gov. Edwards would tie at 44% apiece if the two advanced into the general election, providing a distinct example of early polling disparity.
North Carolina: To no one’s surprise, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) has filed a gubernatorial exploratory committee to gauge his victory chances in challenging Gov. Roy Cooper (D). It has always been expected that Mr. Forest would run for the state’s top office.