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Hensarling: CFPB director speeding through rules to fuel political ambitions

Joe Mont | August 30, 2017

Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican who heads the House Financial Services Committee, continues launch direct attacks on Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“I am writing to express concern regarding several recent news reports about the process being employed to finalize the Bureau’s rule entitled ‘Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost loans,’” Hensarling wrote in an Aug. 28 letter to Cordray.

Hensarling cited recent media reports suggesting, according to sources, that Cordray and the CFPB are “moving quickly” to release the rule regulating payday lenders by the fall, in a final push before he departs the agency. There was also a report that Cordray is “personally involved in the rulemaking process, going so far as to set up a conference room” near his office “that is serving as a war room in the final push to finish the payday rule.”

Yet another article, referencing rumors that Cordray will run for governor in Ohio, reports that he wants to “get as many projects done in Washington as he can before he leaves.”

“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 be a nonpartisan and objective rulemaking process governed by the Administrative Procedures Act,” Hesarling wrote. “Simply put, there is no legal basis for accelerating a federal rulemaking to satisfy an arbitrary deadline necessitated by election dates established under Ohio law. If this is the case, it undoubtedly opens the Bureau up to legal challenge.”

Hensarling demanded that Cordray respond with the following: a “categorical denial hat political considerations have informed any aspect of your decisions, orders and communications relating to this rule”; assurances that all records relating to this rulemaking will be preserved; and 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.”

Hensarling's line of attack is not a new or unique one. On Aug. 15, the Republican Governors Association filed their second FOIA for records related to Cordray’s “potential violation of the Hatch Act while exploring a run for Ohio Governor.”

The request, they say, “ follows revelations that Mr. Cordray actively discussed the Ohio governor’s race with the chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party.” The initial FOIA request, on Aug. 1, FOIA follows one the RGA submitted on Aug. 1, requested information and communication relating to Cordray’s activity surrounding a potential run.

“Ohioans deserve to know whether Richard Cordray is using his Consumer Financial Protection Bureau office for political gain at the expense of taxpayers,” RGA Communications Director Jon Thompson said in a statement. “If these new revelations are correct, and Cordray did discuss potential gubernatorial debates with Ohio Democrats, he should admit truthfully what he discussed, if he is engaged in prohibited political activity, and why he is so focused on not doing his job.”