With Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton poised to choose her November running mate, the past two weeks have seen both the founding force and the current Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau mentioned as possibilities. It is a remarkable feat for an agency in just its fifth year of existence, and testament to the high national profile of the Bureau.
The past week saw labor leaders in Ohio lobbying the Clinton team to select current CFPB Director Richard Cordray. Cordray, 57, is from Grove City, Ohio and has twice won statewide elections as a state representative and state treasurer as well as serving as Ohio Attorney General after being appointed. He then narrowly lost a re-election bid. Cordray clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and was a very successful attorney in private practice in Ohio. A column published last week in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune openly called for Cordray’s selection, and call that was picked up in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere in the press.
The end of June also saw an ABC report that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was being formally vetted by the Clinton team. Warren, 67, was considered a possible Democratic nominee herself earlier this year. In June, she endorsed Clinton’s candidacy and has now begun campaigning for her. She was known for scholarly legal work dealing with consumer and bankrupt law prior to becoming active in public policy. In September 2010 President Obama named her Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to set up the new agency. Though she never served formally as CFPB Director due to opposition from industry and Capitol Hill, she is closely associated with the Bureau. Elected to the Senate in 2012, Warren still makes consumer issues a high priority.
Riding the wave of high profile CFPB consent orders and lawsuits, either Cordray or Warren would bring a populist splash to Clinton’s campaign. Both have been prominent in the spotlight that the Bureau typically attracts. The CFPB has consistently positioned itself as the great defender of the American middle class against the machinations of big business. Its website proclaims to Americans, “We’re on your side,” claiming “we are a US government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.” The website also trumpets that over 25 million Americans have benefited financially from over $11.4 billion in funds collected from offending businesses. Both Warren and Cordray have been frequents guests before Congress as well as being often heard from on television and talk radio. The Bureau’s media-savvy, populist approach has provided both Warren and Cordray with a prominent launching pad for future political endeavors.