Speculation rises as CFPB Director Cordray fails to shut down Ohio governor rumors

May face competition from the one and only Jerry Springer

Speculation around the intentions of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray to run for Ohio governor are reaching a boiling point after he chose to not deny the claims in a response letter to Financial Services Chair Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.

While it's still early, Cordray may get some unlikely competition from fellow democrat, former mayor of Cincinnati and infamous former talk show host Jerry Springer, who recently reported he may also enter the gubernatorial race.

Nevertheless, Hensarling once again called into question Cordray’s political ambitions since he sits at the helm of the largest consumer watchdog agency.

Due to recent news reports, Hensarling said in a letter on Aug. 28 to Cordray, “These reports, which have not been rebutted by the Bureau, suggest that your personal political ambitions may be informing decisions you are making regarding what is supposed to a be a nonpartisan and objective agency rulemaking process governed by the Administrative Procedure Act.”

“To assure the public of the integrity on the Bureau’s rulemaking process, please provide the Committee with the following in writing by no later than August 30, 2017,” he wrote.

Here are the three things he asked of Cordray:

1. Your categorical denial that political considerations have informed any aspect of your decisions, orders and communications relating to this rule.

2. Your assurance that all records relating to this rulemaking will be preserved.

3. Confirmation that you intend to serve your full statutory term as bureau director, or, if you do not intend to serve your full term, confirmation of the date on which you intend to resign from office.

Cordray responded by the deadline on Aug. 30. All three of his responses are below, but the third response is particularly noteworthy.

1. I categorically deny that political considerations have informed any aspect of my decisions, orders and communications relating to a rule under consideration by the Consumer Bureau concerning, “Payday, Vehicle Title, and certain High-Cost Loans.”

2. I give you my assurance that all records relating to this rulemaking will be preserved in accordance with applicable law.

3. The final question is one you have asked me before – first in a letter dated March 20, 2017, to which I responded, then again in a question for the record after my April 5, 2017 Semi-annual report hearing before the Committee, to which I also responded. Now you are asking the same question a third time, and my answer remains the same. You ask whether I intend to serve my full statutory term as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or whether there is some other specific date on which I plan to resign. At this time, I have no further insights to provide on that subject.

While the lead up to the answer is a little lengthy, he finished it saying, “I have no further insights to provide on that subject.”

His response included no firm denial, opposed to the first two answers that included “I categorically deny” and “I give you my assurance.”

Rather than extinguish all industry rumors, the response letter continues to leave the industry wondering.

Barbara Mishkin recently noted in a Ballard Spahr blog post that it appears Cordray will not resign before Labor Day and intends to remain as director until at least a date in September.  

“While it is still widely believed that Director Cordray will resign this fall to run for Ohio Governor, the timing of his departure is now a question mark,” the blog post stated. “Since it is also widely believed that he wants to issue a final payday loan rule before he departs, it is possible Director Cordray had expected to issue a final rule before Labor Day and is delaying his resignation until the final rule is issued.”

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