December 4, 2017

Richard Cordray’s Bad First Impression In Governor’s Race

Richard Cordray’s Bad First Impression In Governor’s Race

According to the Columbus Dispatch, former Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray will announce his intentions to run for Governor this week. First impressions can matter a lot to voters though, and that’s bad news for the Ohio Democrat.

Since quitting the CFPB, Cordray has been in the news because of the strange way he left his job. By appointing Leandra English as his replacement, Cordray created a “leadership crisis” at the CFPB, and now has likely lost the politically-charged battle of his own making:

“Both Mulvaney and English claimed to be the rightful acting director, with each citing different federal laws. The leadership crisis developed over the weekend after the CFPB’s permanent director, Richard Cordray, resigned and appointed English as his successor. Shortly afterward, the White House announced that Mulvaney, currently budget director, would take over the CFPB on an interim basis. The judge’s ruling Tuesday is not the final decision in the case. But in making his decision, the judge said that English had not shown a substantial likelihood that she eventually would succeed on the merits of her case. The judge’s decision is not immediately appealable.”

Additionally, even before the Judge’s ruling, Cordray was embarrassed when the CFPB’s own general counsel rebuked his succession plan:

“But English’s push to be recognized as the legitimate acting director took a blow Monday after a memo was released from Mary McLeod, the CFPB’s general counsel, saying she agreed with the White House that Mulvaney should be recognized as acting director.”

Finally, Cordray’s bad moves also alienated his old employees at the CFPB. Cordray’s appointment of English, who had “no enforcement, supervisory or legal experience to head the embattled agency,” left many at the CFPB “angry”:

“In interviews, several current and former CFPB officials, most of whom did not want to speak on the record, were upset by Cordray’s eleventh-hour move during a holiday weekend, typically a time when the only news that is released is the kind people want to bury. They were also angry at his choice, arguing that English was not experienced enough for the job.”

Cordray’s leadership qualities will be under heavy scrutiny when he announces a run for Governor, and this past week should leave many Ohioans with serious questions. One former CFPB employee said the recent controversy highlights how Cordray’s “cronyism and favoritism leads to discrimination”:

“‘It was shocking to people that English was selected,” said one former CFPB employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. ‘Many people were questioning Leandra’s qualifications and her experience. It’s symptomatic of the environment at the CFPB where they just handpick whomever they want and this cronyism and favoritism leads to discrimination.'”

Cordray’s time at the CFPB was always going to be under scrutiny when when he returned to electoral politics. Yet, the storm stirred up by his resignation magnifies the degree to which his tenure will be a political liability.