Rumor has it that Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray plans to leave his position and run for Ohio governor at some point soon, but according to one of the top Republicans on Capitol Hill, Cordray is already making moves to prepare for his run in Ohio – some of which include violating federal election law by mixing his current job with the job he supposedly wants next.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas is calling for an investigation of Cordray for allegedly violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees and cabinet members from using their official position to influence an election.
At issue is whether Cordray was involved in a recent call between Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill and a “mutual friend” who said that Cordray plans to run in Ohio and asked the state’s top elected Democrat to not stand in Cordray’s way.
In a letter sent last week to the Office of Special Counsel, Hensarling accuses Cordray of potentially consenting to the call between O'Neill and the “mutual friend,” which could be a violation of the Hatch Act.
Hensarling has spoken about Cordray’s rumored interest in running for Ohio governor on many occasions, including passive-aggressively chiding Cordray for appearing before the House Financial Services Committee back in April.
“Mr. Cordray, I know that you are here at our committee’s invitation for a statutory appearance, but I’m otherwise surprised to see you here in that, as you well know, there have been many press reports saying that you would have otherwise returned to Ohio to pursue a gubernatorial bid,” Hensarling said to Cordray’s face in April. “Perhaps the rumors of your political aspirations are greatly exaggerated.”
But that was a few months ago, and the noise surrounding Cordray’s intentions has only gotten louder since then.
And now, Hensarling wants Cordray to answer for his alleged actions.
“It appears that as an employee of a federal agency, Director Cordray is subject of the Hatch Act,” Hensarling said in his letter of the Office of Special Counsel, a copy of which was obtained by HousingWire.
“As reported, it is unclear whether Director Cordray consented to or acquiesced in the contact between the unidentified ‘mutual friend’ and Justice O’Neill,” Hensarling continued. “However, if this occurred, it appears that Director Cordray indirectly contacted a potential primary rival to secure the rival’s commitment not to run for office, which may be reasonably construed as evidence that he undertook a campaign to secure a nomination for partisan political office in contravention of the law.”
And Hensarling wants the Office of Special Counsel to investigate Cordray’s conduct and determine whether he is in violation of the Hatch Act.
“As the Acting Special Counsel, you have authority to review potential Hatch Act violations,” Hensarling said. “Accordingly, I request that you review whether Director Cordray engaged in prohibited political activities and act promptly on the basis of your findings.”
(h/t The Hill)