Hensarling: Consumer bureau’s actions raise questions about director’s political future


House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) is raising questions about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director’s political future and its impact on a pending CFPB rule regarding payday and car title loans.

Hensarling in a Tuesday letter told CFPB Director Richard Cordray to “assure the public of the integrity” of the bureau’s rulemaking process, citing reports the director has sped the loan rule to be released before his rumored run for governor of Ohio.

The Texas Republican asked Cordray to say when he plans to leave the CFPB, to deny any political considerations in the loan rulemaking process and to promise to preserve all records related to the rule.

Hensarling’s letter is the latest chapter in the feud between the powerful congressional chairman, who has called on President Trump to fire Cordray, and the director, who had been largely protected from GOP attacks under the Obama administration.

Cordray, a Democrat, served as Ohio’s attorney general before joining the CFPB and has been rumored to be planning to step down from the bureau to run for the state’s governor in September. As an executive branch employee, Cordray cannot engage in campaign activity until leaving the CFPB.

The CFPB has recently finalized or moved forward several rules affecting forced arbitration clauses, overdraft fee disclosure and payday and title loans. The recent glut of regulatory activity has driven speculation that Cordray is aiming to finish major CFPB rules before he leaves to campaign.

Hensarling, who has overseen GOP attempts to scale back the CFPB’s power and independence, wrote that the recent bureau actions “suggest that your personal political ambitions may be informing decisions you are making” leading the nonpartisan agency.

Republicans and business trade groups alike have long called Cordray a political grandstander who is abusing the CFPB perch to boost his profile.

Hensarling in his letter cited two media reports about Cordray’s personal involvement in the loan rulemaking process and speculation about the director’s future as potential concerns.

“There is no valid legal basis for accelerating a federal rulemaking to satisfy an arbitrary deadline set by election dates under Ohio state law,” Hensarling wrote.

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