WASHINGTON – Brian Montgomery appears headed for easy confirmation for another stint as commissioner of the Federal Housing Administration, despite objections by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., that he is too close to the financial services industry.
During a nomination hearing on Thursday, Montgomery appeared to enjoy widespread support by members of the panel.
But Warren raised concerns about Montgomery’s consulting business after he left the FHA in 2009, noting that he helped negotiate agreements with FHA lenders on False Claims Act cases brought by the Justice Department.
"This is the revolving door at its worst," Warren said. "I hope we will reject this nomination.”
Montgomery joined The Collingwood Group several years before the Justice Department started bringing claims related to the performance of FHA-insured loans against major banks and other mortgage companies. In April 2016, Wells Fargo paid $1.2 billion for originating defective FHA loans and defrauding FHA.
"Your company was known for helping firms navigate FHA penalties and lawsuits," Warren said. "I have seen some amazing cases of spinning through the revolving door but this one might really take the cake.”
Montgomery said he was not involved in the Wells Fargo matter and that he followed government ethics guidelines.
"Our firm was involved in helping the law firm that was representing Wells Fargo. I personally was not involved," Montgomery said.
Warren demanded that Montgomery produce a list of clients that the Collingwood Group advised.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, noted that Montgomery has already signed an ethics agreement to avoid possible conflicts of interest if he is confirmed by the full Senate.
"I appreciate that you have agreed to divest yourself of all conflicts and recluse yourself from companies you served and supported," Brown said.
Montgomery said he will “certainly abide by everything that is required of me.”