Calls intensify for Cordray to reveal political aspirations

CFPB director Richard Cordray is being asked to confirm whether or not he is leaving the regulator to run for governor in Ohio. (Photo courtesy of the CFPB)

The chairman of the House Financial Services Committee wants a definitive answer to a question that both he and Consumer Bankers Association president and chief executive officer Richard Hunt have been asking for some time: Is Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray departing the regulator to run for governor in Ohio?

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the committee chair and Texas Republican who often has clashed with Cordray during hearings, delivered a letter to the CFPB director asking for written confirmation by today about any political aspirations in the Buckeye State. The letter, by the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, asked for clarification as the CFPB is compiling a new rule associated with small-dollar lending.

Hensarling’s inquiries to Cordray included:

—Categorical denial that political considerations have informed any aspect of decisions, orders and communications relating to this rule

—Assurance that all records relating to this rulemaking will be preserved

—Confirmation that Cordray intends to serve his full statutory term as bureau director, or, if he does not intend to serve the full term, confirmation of the date on which he intends to resign from office

Hensarling’s letter referenced multiple media reports originating out of Ohio where sources close to Cordray hinted at his governorship aspirations. The reports seemed to exacerbate Hensarling’s inquiry in light of the CFPB’s latest rule-making agenda.

“Simply put, there is no valid legal basis for accelerating a federal rulemaking to satisfy an arbitrary deadline necessitated by election dates established under Ohio law. If this is the case, it undoubtedly opens the bureau’s rule up to legal challenge,” Hensarling wrote.

Meanwhile, Hunt also raised the issue upon hearing word of Cordray’s upcoming schedule. Hunt noted that Cordray is scheduled to speak at the Ohio Land Bank Conference in Cleveland on Sept. 12. He also mentioned that Cordray is rumored to appear at an Ohio AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic.

Hunt asked , “Could these appearances have implications for a potential run for office?”

Hunt continued with, “It is well past time director Richard Cordray clarify his intentions to run for public office as the speculation has become a distraction and now casts a shadow over the impartiality of the CFPB. We need to have stability at the CFPB.

"The current limbo — will he or won't he? — is just the latest reason why a Senate-confirmed, bipartisan commission must be established at the CFPB. A diverse group of experts directing and formulating agency policy — not a single director — would ensure consumers receive a balanced, deliberative and thoughtful approach to regulation,” Hunt went on to say.

“Furthermore, director Cordray has not in over two years named a permanent deputy director to be second in command. The markets and consumers demand stability, and announcing his intentions is just the right thing to do,” Hunt added.

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