GOP governors question whether consumer chief violated Hatch Act

GOP governors question whether consumer chief violated Hatch Act
© Greg Nash

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) wants to know what Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray has been up to the past two months.

The group is pushing Cordray to release his official schedule for June and July, which it believes contains key dates and events in which he has reportedly discussed his intentions to run for Ohio governor.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill told Politico in July that it was clear from a conversation with a mutual friend that Cordray was planning to launch a campaign to replace retiring Republican Gov. John Kasich. 

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RGA said it’s been three weeks since it filed its first Freedom of Information Act request for Cordray’s schedule. The CFPB website only has Cordray’s schedule posted from January through May.

“It’s time for Richard Cordray to stop hiding his schedule and come clean,” said RGA Spokesman Jon Thompson. 

“Cordray should quit stalling, release his schedule, and prove to taxpayers if he engaged in political activity that violated the Hatch Act. Ohioans deserve to know if Cordray used his Consumer Financial Protection Bureau office improperly for political gain.”

The conservative group America Rising Squared filed a formal complaint with the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC) last week against Cordray calling for a investigation into his alleged Hatch Act violations.

"For Richard Cordray to use his perch at the CFPB to plot a run for Governor violates his pledge to taxpayers and proves that the only thing he cares about is advancing his political career," Brian Rogers, the group’s executive director said in a statement.

"We hope the Office of Special Counsel takes this complaint seriously and conducts a full investigation to determine the extent to which the CFPB Director violated the Hatch Act in order to coordinate his early campaign activities."

If he runs, Cordray would join a crowded pool of Democratic candidates, including former Rep. Betty Sutton, former Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and former state Rep. Connie Pillich.

Republicans running include Attorney General Mike DeWine, Rep. Jim Renacci, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Secretary of State Jon Husted.

Congressional Republicans, who have long sought to limit the powers of the CFPB, would likely welcome Cordray’s resignation. They say the watchdog agency is too powerful to be led by a single director. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed last year when it ruled the structure of the agency was unconstitutional. A three-judge panel on the court said in its 2-1 decision that the arrangement “represents a gross departure from settled historical practice” of having multi-member commissions at independent agencies to keep them in check.

A full panel of 11 judges on the court is now reviewing that decision.

--This report was updated at 3:25 p.m.