Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray spent time with House Democratic lawmakers Wednesday, having met in recent months with a menagerie of far-left interest groups — meetings likely to fuel rumors the controversial Democrat is planning to run for governor of Ohio.
Cordray has been the target of Republican lawmakers in particular, who have accused Cordray of acting unlawfully and running a “rogue federal agency.” Republicans have opposed the CFPB, created out of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, from its inception and have called for the White House to fire Cordray.
“For conducting unlawful activities, abusing his authority and denying market participants due process, Richard Cordray should be dismissed by our President,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) in April. “Today, Mr. Cordray and his CFPB don’t just act as a cop on the beat, they act as legislator, prosecutor, judge and jury all rolled into one.”
In February, the Boston Globe reported that the White House was weighing its options, but was being held back by a number of legal and political hurdles.
The CFPB is an independent agency and President Trump can only fire Cordray for inefficiency, malfeasance or neglect of duty. In October, a Washington, D.C., circuit court ruled that the CFPB structure, and the protections for Cordray’s job, are unconstitutional.
“The CFPB’s concentration of enormous executive power in a single, unaccountable, unchecked director not only departs from settled historical practice, but also poses a far greater risk of arbitrary decision-making and abuse of power, and a far greater threat to individual liberty, than does a multi-member independent agency,” Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in a majority opinion.
However, an appeals court has agreed to reconsider the D.C. court’s ruling, which would repeal Cordray’s job protection, later this month.
But Cordray, who was recruited by liberal firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), may be eyeing another job. The native Ohioan has been rumored to be considering entering the 2018 Ohio gubernatorial race after his term is up next year, and recent meetings with Democratic lawmakers and far-left activist groups are likely to stoke such rumors.
Cordray met with the House Democratic Caucus Wednesday, after an invitation by Chairman Joe Crowley (D-NY). A spokesman for the CFPB told Breitbart News that Cordray has also offered to meet with the Republican conference, should they wish to do so.
“At the meeting, Director Cordray discussed the Bureau’s work protecting consumers, and the importance of the Consumer Bureau in addressing the problems that contributed to the financial crisis,” the spokesman said.
As for rumors about future plans, the spokesman said Cordray is “100 percent focused on the important job of protecting consumers.”
Cordray’s meeting with Democrats comes after Cordray and his staff met with a plethora of activist groups as part of a consultation on the CFPB’s proposed rule on payday lending. On March 9., Cordray and his staff met with a number of groups, including representatives from Americans for Financial Reform, John Podesta’s Center for American Progress and the National Council of La Raza.
At an April 10 meeting, attended by Cordray’s staff, present were representatives from the Center for American Progress, Progress Virginia, Americans for Financial Reform, Virginia Organizing, and Our Revolution — a spinoff group from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) presidential run. Cordray was not in attendance at the April 10 meeting.
Both meetings were called to discuss CFPB’s proposed regulation on payday loans. The groups involved have supported a CFPB crackdown on such loans, arguing they are predatory and a debt trap. The CFPB has proposed a rule that would impose a number of restrictions, including a requirement that payday lenders determine whether borrowers can afford to pay back their loans. Opponents say this would limit the practice and leave many Americans without access to credit.
The CFPB opened the rule to comment between July and October last year and so far has been unable to keep track of all the comments. A website monitoring the comments found that only approximately 200,000 of approximately a million comments had been uploaded. Most of the comments uploaded so far appear to strongly oppose the rule.
Adam Shaw is a political reporter for Breitbart News. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY