Appointed by former President Barack Obama as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Richard Cordray announced Wednesday that he will be stepping down at the end of the month instead of serving out his term. Due to recent conflicts with President Donald Trump and the GOP-led Congress, Cordray has merely become the latest high-ranking U.S. official to step aside in frustration.
Following the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act authorized the CFPB’s creation in order to prevent further predatory loans, exorbitant interest rates, and other reckless business practices issued by the banking and financial industry. Since 2011, the CFPB has been responsible for implementing billions of dollars in fines from major banks, including $100 million from Wells Fargo last year for opening fraudulent accounts and incessantly overcharging their customers.
Last month, Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote in the GOP-led Senate to overturn a CFPB policy that would have allowed customers to file lawsuits against their banks. Although Cordray directly asked Trump not to sign the legislation, the president ignored his advice while reportedly complaining about the CFPB director in private meetings attended by financial executives.
“Together, we have made a real and lasting difference that has improved people’s lives,” Cordray wrote in an email to his CFPB employees on Wednesday. “I trust that new leadership will see that value also and work to preserve it – perhaps in different ways than before, but desiring, as I have done, to serve in ways that benefit and strengthen our economy and our country.”
Despite the fact that Cordray’s term was scheduled to end in July 2018, the CFPB director announced Wednesday that he will be stepping down at the end of the month. Due to repeated conflicts with the Trump administration, former Director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) Walter Shaub Jr. announced his resignation this summer, while DOJ corporate compliance watchdog Hui Chen announced her resignation in a scathing blog post. Instead of resigning from their positions, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, former Attorney General Sally Yates, and former FBI Director James Comey were fired by the president for extremely dubious reasons.
According to a recent statement from Raj Shah, principal deputy press secretary at the White House, the Trump administration will announce an acting director to replace Cordray “at the appropriate time.” Although Cordray has not announced any plans following his resignation, many political analysts believe he will run for governor of Ohio as Gov. John Kasich’s second term comes to an end next year.
“At the CFPB, Rich Cordray forced the biggest financial institutions to return $12 billion directly to the people they cheated. He held big banks accountable,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a statement on Wednesday. “He is a dedicated public servant and a tireless watchdog for American consumers – and he will be missed. The new Director of the CFPB must be someone with a track record of protecting consumers and holding financial firms responsible when they cheat people. This is no place for another Trump-appointed industry hack.”