Cordray, who has been on the job for just over a week after his controversial Jan. 4 recess appointment, held a briefing today at the CFTC with about 20 reporters. “This bureau is meant to serve 300 million Americans, and they need to know what we’re doing,” he said – though he declined to discuss any specific enforcement efforts.
Instead, he offered reassurances to the business community that the bureau is not the enemy. “We will be not only protecting consumers, but we will be supporting honest and responsible businesses...who will be better off in the marketplace when they’re protected against fraudulent, deceptive competitors, and to have even-handed rules of the road that everybody lives under will be a good thing.”
Cordray added that he has been a member of his local Chamber of Commerce in Grove City, Ohio for more than 20 years and even represented the organization when in private practice. “I understand in many ways their perspective,” he said.
Tom Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said today that the group had no immediate plans to file suit to challenge Cordray’s recess appointment, which came while the U.S. Senate was in a pro forma session. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel today published its opinion that the appointment was valid.
The Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB includes language that the agency cannot exercise its full powers unless a Senate-confirmed director is in place. When questioned whether a recess appointment fulfills that requirement, Cordray responded, “The bureau isn’t arriving at a legal interpretation of that language. That’s going to be left to others to deal with....It’s my understanding that language is common to many statutes.”
He also said the CFPB is on track to finalize a memorandum of understanding with the Federal Trade Commission by the statutory deadline of January 21. The two agencies have overlapping jurisdiction to police financial services companies for fraudulent or deceptive conduct.
“We do not want to be duplicative or double-team companies,” he said. “That’s not helpful to them and it’s not helpful to us. We both have limited resources....We also understand that they need to have the confidence that they can get consistent advice between the two of us, so there’s going to be a lot of interrelation back and forth between us and the FTC.”