Who is Richard Cordray? - Obama Nominates Consumer Protection Director

On Monday, July 18, 2011, President Barack Obama nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to be Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Cordray, aged 52, graduated from Michigan State University’s James Madison College and went on to study Economics at the University of Oxford as a Marshall Scholar. He later attended the University of Chicago Law School, and in 1987, Cordray was a five-time champion and Tournament of Champions semifinalist on Jeopardy!

After graduating from law school, Cordray clerked for Associate Justices Byron R. White and Anthony M. Kennedy in the U.S. Supreme Court. He later served in the Ohio State House of Representatives. In 1992 Cordray ran for the U.S. House of Representatives but was defeated. In September 1993, he was named Ohio’s first Solicitor General. In late 1996, Cordray was a top contender for United States Attorney during President Bill Clinton’s second term but was not selected. In 1998, Cordray lost his bid for Ohio Attorney General and ran for U.S. Senate in 2000 but lost. Cordray served as Franklin County Treasurer from 2002-2007 and Ohio State Treasurer from 2007-2009. In 2009, he ran for Ohio Attorney General and served for 2 years but lost re-election in 2010.

In December 2010, Elizabeth Warren named Cordray to lead the enforcement arm of the CFPB. At the time, Cordray said the post gave him the opportunity to resume “...doing on a 50-state basis the things I cared most about as a state attorney general, with a more robust and a more comprehensive authority.”

Cordray has a history with many of the large banks he could end up regulating. As Attorney General, Cordray filed suit in 2009 against Bank of America, its directors and four executives, claiming that it concealed Merrill Lynch’s losses from shareholders during its acquisition of the company. In 2010, he reached a $9 million settlement with AIG in an antitrust case and he was also involved in suits against Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s.

Cordray was chosen over presumptive nominee Elizabeth Warren, who has come under fire from Republicans who oppose the bureau’s single-director leadership structure. Warren left Washington shortly after the President’s announcement and has returned to Massachusetts, where many believe she is contemplating a run for Senate against Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) in 2012.

While Cordray has been largely out of the fray thus far, Senate Republicans have said that they will oppose any nominee for director until the bureau is restructured, and Republicans in both the House and Senate have taken steps in recent weeks to block President Obama from making any recess appointments. Responding to the nomination, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, said: "Although this deadline has been known for nearly one year, President Obama waited until the last possible moment to act. For months he has ignored Republican concerns about the lack of accountability at the [consumer bureau] and its potential adverse effect on the economy. Until President Obama addresses our concerns by supporting a few reasonable structural changes, we will not confirm anyone to lead it. No accountability, no confirmation."

The CFPB is set to open its doors on Thursday, July 21, 2011, but until it has a Senate-confirmed director; its powers will be limited.

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