Last month, the Daily Caller broke an exclusive story alleging that Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, illegally used private communication equipment to hide his contact with high-level operatives in the Democratic party during the election season. The original article can be found here.
A source passed along to the Caller the results of several Freedom of Information Act requests sent to the CFPB seeking records of communications by top bureau staffers. The original result was a spreadsheet showing several staffers and the number of email and text messages made. An additional request was made to see the actual email and text messages sent by Cordray from his private phone, but the CFPB indicated that no records for those conversations existed.
It is not illegal for a government employee to use a personal device for work. However, federal law requires government employees to either copy “an official electronic messaging account of the officer or employee in the original creation or transmission of the record,” or forward “a complete copy of the record to an official electronic messaging account of the officer or employee not later than 20 days after the original creation or transmission of the record.” The CFPB could provide no reason for Cordray’s apparent failure to comply with the law even as alleged misuse of personal electronic devices by Hillary Clinton was in the news.
However, the emails and texts themselves may suggest a reason. They show that Cordray was communicating with CFPB staffer Rohit Chopra, directing him to talk to a well-known Democratic lobbyist. Chopra is also a former senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, funded by George Soros. The lobbyist in question was Eileen Mancera, who has long supported the Democratic party and who raised more than $100,000 for the Clinton campaign.
The topic of conversation when Cordray and Mancera spoke was student loan policy. Mancera had been lobbying the Florida legislature regarding student loan policy, and Cordray though she might have “some useful perspective.” Significantly, these communications took place in late 2015. In early 2016, Mancera joined a firm which would be clearly affected by federal student loan policy. The company describes itself as the “premier investor in the off-campus student housing sector,” that has “developed and/or sold more than $3 billion in student housing communities.”
The apparently concealed contact between the CFPB Director and a player in the industry he’s regulating, and one with strong ties to the party that champions his employer, would seem to be untoward at best and possibly illegal. Though it is unclear under current law if President Trump can remove the CFPB director at will, there is no question he can do so for cause.