Richard Cordray’s botched exit from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has left the federal agency in such chaos that even his former staffers are criticizing his decision to appoint his Chief-of-Staff, Leandra English, as his deputy director in a brazenly political move to undermine the President’s authority on his way out. The move ended in failure last night when a federal judge ruled against English’s attempt to remove Mick Mulvaney, the White House’s pick to temporarily lead the agency.
Since Cordray hastily chose to resign early from the agency, CFPB employees have been “privately questioning why” Cordray abruptly tapped his Chief-of-Staff with little to no experience as his attempted replacement. American Banker reports that one CFPB staffer claimed it was “shocking to people that English was selected” and that it was “symptomatic of the environment at the CFPB where they just handpick whomever they want and this cronyism and favoritism leads to discrimination.” Others called the move a “continuation of Richard Cordray’s historical practices as he went out the door to create as much chaos and conflict as he could” and accused Cordray of using English “as a pawn” for his political move.
As Cordray attempts to leave behind the chaos he instilled at the CFPB to pursue his power-hungry political ambitions in Ohio, his former employees are already blasting him for his failed management and irresponsible use of the agency for partisan gamesmanship. Ohio voters are taking notice of Cordray’s actions and will hold him accountable at the ballot box if he runs for governor.
American Banker has more details:
Employees at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are privately questioning why outgoing director Richard Cordray abruptly tapped a 34-year-old chief of staff with no enforcement, supervisory or legal experience to head the embattled agency after he resigned.
Many were caught off guard when Cordray handed the reins to Leandra English by naming her deputy director as he stepped down on Friday. The White House also appeared surprised, scrambling to officially name Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, as interim director. English and Mulvaney have been engaged in a legal standoff since Sunday night over control of the bureau.
In interviews, several current and former CFPB officials, most of whom did not want to speak on the record, were upset by Cordray’s eleventh-hour move during a holiday weekend, typically a time when the only news that is released is the kind people want to bury. They were also angry at his choice, arguing that English was not experienced enough for the job.
"It was shocking to people that English was selected," said one former CFPB employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Many people were questioning Leandra’s qualifications and her experience. It’s symptomatic of the environment at the CFPB where they just handpick whomever they want and this cronyism and favoritism leads to discrimination."
Little is known about English. Previously, she worked as a principal deputy chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management, the chief of staff and senior adviser to the deputy director for management at OMB, and was a member of the CFPB implementation team at the Treasury Department during the Obama administration.
But she’d only formally served as the agency’s chief of staff since January, and has never been subjected to the kind of public scrutiny that comes from holding a top-level post…
Cordray’s move was widely panned outside the agency, with many blaming him for sowing discord at the CFPB as he left. Though Cordray has claimed he was following the Dodd-Frank Act in appointing English as acting director, the CFPB’s own general counsel, Mary McLeod, disagreed.
"This was a continuation of Richard Cordray’s historical practices as he went out the door to create as much chaos and conflict as he could," said Scott Pearson, a lawyer at Ballard Spahr.
Richard Hunt, the president and CEO of the Consumer Bankers Association, questioned why Cordray waited until the last minute to name a new deputy director.
"I like Leandra, I think she was a terrific chief of staff, and she did everything she could to keep the trains running on time,’ Hunt said. ‘But she has never run a government agency, never run a business and never worked at a bank. I hope she’s not being used as a pawn, because certainly David Silberman was highly qualified to serve."