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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray, who announced his resignation on Wednesday. (Photo: NCRC/flickr/cc)

Richard Cordray, Who 'Held Big Banks Accountable,' Announces Resignation From CFPB

An Obama appointee, the embattled Cordray had led the consumer watchdog since it began in 2011

Andrea Germanos

Richard Cordray, the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), announced his resignation on Wednesday.

The Obama-appointed consumer advocate announced the decision in an email to CFPB employees, saying he will step down "before the end of the month."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who helped create the agency, said on Twitter of Cordray: "He's a dedicated public servant and a tireless watchdog for U.S. consumers—& he will be missed."

In his statement to CFPB staff, Cordray applauds the work the successful and broadly-supported watchdog has done since it began operations in 2011.

"Together we have made a real and lasting difference that has improved people's lives, notably: $12 billion in relief recovered for nearly 30 million consumers; stronger safeguards against irresponsible mortgage practices that caused the financial crisis and hurt millions of Americans; giving people a voice by handling over 1.3 million complaints that led to problems getting fixed for vast numbers of individuals, and creating new ways to bring financial education to the public so that people can take more control over their economic lives," he wrote.

The statement does not mention Cordray's next steps; however, there's been speculation that he would run for governor of Ohio.

Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of the Wall Street watchdog Better Markets, called Cordray "a financial consumer protection superhero" who "has set the gold standard for stopping and punishing financial predators, scammers, and rip-off artists.  Without fear or favor," Kelleher said, "he fought to protect everyone with a bank account, credit card, or mortgage."

Republicans have long sought to neuter the CFPB—most recently with a "giant wet kiss to Wall Street" by blocking a rule that prevented companies from using "rip off clauses." President Donald Trump's election was also expected to be "bad news" for the agency.

Cordray himself has been in the crosshairs of some Republicans, and earlier this month Trump reportedly asked a group of lawmakers and financial services interest groups what to do about him, but apparently expressed the view that ousting him would make him a "martyr."

According to Kelleher, Cordray "has been an incredibly effective consumer cop on the Wall Street beat, which is why the financial industry and its powerful political allies have tried to kill the CFPB from the start and have relentlessly and unfairly attacked Director Cordray for doing such a good job."

Cordray's term would have ended July 2018.

As for the next person to lead the agency, Warren says it "must be someone with a track record of protecting consumers & holding financial firms responsible when they cheat people. This is no place for another Trump-appointed industry hack."

Echoing Warren, Keller called on "Trump to act like anti-Wall Street candidate Trump and appoint a director who will prioritize Main Street families not big financial firms."

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