Brooks was a managing partner at O'Melveny & Myers when he worked with Mnuchin on the purchase of OneWest. The bank was previously known as IndyMac, and Mnuchin bought the subprime mortgage lender from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. after IndyMac collapsed during the housing crisis. Brooks then joined OneWest as vice chairman and chief legal counsel and left shortly before the bank was sold to CIT Group in 2015. He is now executive vice president at Fannie Mae and oversees fair lending, marketing and communications.
Otting was chief executive at OneWest and a visible defender of the bank during community protests accusing it of aggressively foreclosing on homeowners and during the bank's merger with CIT. However, Otting was fired after the acquisition occurred.
Vartanian is well-known figure within the financial industry, with a four-decade career that included stints at regulatory agencies but that has focused primarily on representing banks. He advised Bank of America on its purchase of the troubled mortgage lender Countrywide during the financial crisis and has written several books on banking regulation.
The three men's ties to OneWest could pose obstacles to their confirmation. Though the heads of the CFPB and OCC are presidential appointees, they still require approval by the Senate. Democrats repeatedly attacked Mnuchin for his management of the embattled lender, labeling him the "foreclosure king" and highlighting personal stories of OneWest customers who lost their homes.
The criticism was not enough to derail Mnuchin's confirmation, but Democrats are likely to deploy similar arguments against other OneWest nominees. They hope to highlight Trump's ties to the banking industry as evidence that he has broken campaign pledges to "drain the swamp" of special interests in Washington.
"I have a hard time imagining Midwestern state swing voters will appreciate government by bankers," said Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project.