Finance

Group questions whether CFPB chief broke records laws

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A watchdog group says the chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) might have violated federal records laws by not preserving work-related text messages.

The Cause of Action Institute told CFPB Director Richard Cordray he may have violated federal records laws in a letter sent Wednesday. They say work-related text messages sent by Cordray from a personal cell phone, as first reported by The Daily Caller, may not have been archived according to federal regulations.

The Daily Caller reported in January that Cordray had sent several text messages to CFPB employees related to CFPB work from a personal cell phone. Under federal law, government employees can conduct work on private devices as long as they preserve records of that work with their employer.

“Circumstances such as travel or a dead Blackberry battery sometimes lead Bureau employees to use a personal device,” a CFPB spokesperson told The Daily Caller. “These text messages between Director Cordray and CFPB employees were captured in the Bureau’s electronic storage system and produced to the public after a FOIA request.”

But Cause of Action says Cordray, a President Obama nominee, might not have archived his texts properly, since they were only revealed through follow-up requests.

“It appears that none of these text messages, except for a few captured on other employees’ phones, were located during the relevant [federal records search],” wrote Cause of Action in a letter. “If that is true, government records subject to the Federal Records Act (“FRA”) may have been unlawfully removed from or not properly archived with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

Cause of Action claimed that “there is no publicly available evidence that you copied, forwarded, printed out, or otherwise provided CFPB with copies of the text messages regarding official business from your personal mobile device.”

The group said Cordray must begin an effort to recover and preserve work-related text messages from his personal device.

The pressure comes as some CFPB critics and conservatives are making the case that President Trump should fire Cordray from his position.

Cordray has said he intends to stay on as CFPB Director until his term expires in July 2018. Under current law, the president only has the power to remove Cordray “for cause,” meaning he has reason to believe Cordray has been derelict in his duties as director.

 

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