Cordray announces he’s leaving consumer bureau, promotes aide to deputy director
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray says that he is leaving the agency Friday after announcing his plans to resign several weeks ago.
Cordray told President Trump in a Friday letter that he will resign from the bureau effective at midnight on Friday. He also promoted his chief of staff, Leandra English, to serve as the bureau’s deputy director, setting up a battle with the White House over the agency’s future.
Cordray has been the CFPB’s director since it opened in 2010. His aggressive regulatory and enforcement actions reshaped much of the financial services industry while invoking the rage of conservative and financial sector critics.
“The Consumer Bureau has stood on the side of consumers to see that they are treated fairly, worked to improve their economic circumstances, and held financial institutions accountable to the basic principle that every consumer counts,” Cordray wrote.
“When consumers are supported and protected, when they can have trust and confidence in the marketplace, they can drive our economy forward.”
The CFPB under Cordray issued sweeping rules on mortgages and lending disclosures, student debt, predatory lending and used car loans while cracking down on fraud across the industry.
The bureau won more than $12 billion in restitution for more than 30 million defrauded consumers, a figure often cited by its allies.
Republicans, banks, and much of the financial services industry has long insisted that the CFPB has overstepped its boundaries and that faces no official accountability to Congress through its independence.
The CFPB’s critics are eager for Trump to reshape the agency with his own appointment, but could face difficulties holding the bureau back. Cordray’s promotion of English, one of the CFPB’s earliest members, to the deputy director position could limit Trump’s options to install new temporary leadership before the Senate confirms a new nominee.
Trump had reportedly planned to nominate Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to serve as the bureau’s acting director. Mulvaney, a staunch fiscal conservative, has called the CFPB “a sick, sad joke” and would likely put much of the bureau’s current agenda on ice.
Trump has not named or hinted toward a permanent replacement for Cordray, but several prominent conservatives are rumored to be in the running. Potential picks include former Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas); House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas); Todd Zwyicki, a professor at George Mason University’s libertarian Mercatus Center; and former Fannie Mae counsel Brian Brooks.
Cordray, the former Democratic attorney general of Ohio, leaves the bureau amid rumors he’s planning to run for governor in his home state. As a federal employee, Cordray has been banned from starting the campaign process until he officially leaves the bureau.