President Obama nominated Richard Cordray, a former Ohio Treasurer and attorney general and a potential candidate for Ohio governor, to a new five-year term as watchdog of the nation’s financial-services industry Thursday.
The appointment is viewed as likely to end Mr. Cordray’s ability to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2014 because of restrictions on political activity by federal officeholders.
The President announced Mr. Cordray’s nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the White House at the same time that he nominated Mary Jo White to head the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Mr. Cordray, 53, was put in charge of the newly created agency in January, 2012, over Republican objections that Mr. Obama wrongly used his recess appointment power when the Senate was not in recess. The bureau director supervises 1,071 employees and is paid $179,700 annually.
The former Franklin County treasurer and state representative was elected state treasurer in 2006 and state attorney general in 2008 to fill the vacancy created when Democratic Treasurer Marc Dann resigned in a scandal. Republican Mike DeWine defeated Mr. Cordray when he sought re-election in 2010.
Mr. Obama said that Mr. Cordray’s leadership has made it tougher to trick people into mortgages they can’t afford.
“We’ve set clearer rules so that responsible lenders know how to operate fairly. We’ve launched a “Know Before You Owe” campaign to help parents and students make smart decisions about paying for college. We’ve cracked down on credit card companies that charge hidden fees and forced those companies to make things right. And through it all, Richard has earned a reputation as a straight shooter and somebody who’s willing to bring every voice to the table in order to do what’s right for consumers and our economy," Mr. Obama said, calling on the Senate to confirm Mr. Cordray.
Senate Republicans opposed Mr. Cordray’s nomination because of their objections to the new agency.
His status as director could be affected by a U.S. Court of Appeals case challenging Mr. Obama’s recess appointments.
Republican Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said he looks forward to reviewing Mr. Cordray’s nomination.
“He deserves a fair and thorough process before the Banking Committee. At the time of his controversial recess appointment, we discussed certain reforms to make the CFPB more accountable to citizens and their elected representatives. I look forward to hearing what progress has been made in this regard,” Mr. Portman said.
Three weeks ago former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said that he will not seek the Democratic nomination for governor. Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, Youngstown-area U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, and former Cleveland-area U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton are considering a run for the Democratic nod to take on Republican Gov. John Kasich.
Mr. FitzGerald on Thursday praised Mr. Cordray’s service. He said having one fewer potential opponent in a contested Democratic primary “increases the chances the party would unite quicker behind a prospective nominee.”
State Democratic Chairman Chris Redfern said Mr. Cordray would make an exceptional gubernatorial candidate, but he agreed that that is unlikely in 2014. “Rich Cordray loves his job standing up for consumers and has done an extraordinary job by all accounts.
Both Republicans and Democrats agree that he has been an exceptional leader, and it appears for the next five years he’ll continue to lead that organization,” he said.
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols declined to comment on the nomination.
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