On January 9, twenty-one Democrats from the House of Representatives sent a letter to President-elect Trump in defense of controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, urging Trump not to remove Cordray from his post.  The letter began by noting that no President has ever removed an independent agency head for cause and threatened firm opposition if President-elect Trump initiates removal procedures.

The House Democrats, including Maxine Waters (Cal.) and Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.), highlighted Cordray’s career of public service, from clerking for United States Supreme Court justices to his tenures as the Ohio Solicitor General and Ohio Attorney General.  The letter then turned to Cordray’s record with the CFPB, noting that the Bureau “has returned nearly $12 billion to more than 27 million customers harmed by illegal, predatory financial schemes.”  The letter also referenced the many cases brought by the Bureau, including the high-profile Wells Fargo case, in which the CFPB fined the bank more than $100 million for opening deposit accounts and credit cards without customers’ knowledge.  The group cautioned against Cordray’s removal, writing that any attempts to dismiss the director “should be seen as an effort to delay or otherwise thwart [the Bureau’s] important work.”

The letter did not overlook the Bureau’s detractors, noting that a number of opponents have called the Bureau’s mission and work into question during the agency’s five-and-a-half year existence.  While referencing allegations of employee discrimination and retaliation at the Bureau, the legislators hailed Cordray’s response as upfront, affirmative, and proactive.  The group called the CFPB a leader among financial services agencies in the area of diversity, characterizing the Bureau as the only agency willing to address the issue of racial bias in employee performance reviews.

“It is clear to us that Director Cordray has made significant strides in upholding our nation’s consumer protection laws and managing the complicated issues of diversity and inclusion at his agency,” the group wrote.  “He has done this despite repeated attempts by special interests to undermine, rollback, and limit his work and authority.”  The letter ended with a final caution for the President-elect, maintaining that any litigation to remove Cordray would be unprecedented, lengthy, and unlikely to be successful.

A copy of the letter is available here.