President Obama ignited a firestorm with Republicans on Capitol Hill when he appointed Cordray as the first director of the consumer bureau during a congressional recess in January 2012. It took a year and a half before the Senate confirmed him July 16 on a 66-34 vote, after a bipartisan deal was reached to bring stalled nominations to the floor.
Cordray has tried to stay out of the political fray. (Republicans want to make structural changes to the CFPB, and Cordray became a pawn in that battle.) He has instead focused on setting up the new federal agency. Targeting vulnerable populations such as students, the elderly, and service members, the bureau has undertaken several "know- before-you-owe" initiatives to make it easier for consumers to understand terms of various financial products, such as credit cards, mortgages, and student loans.
Cordray has placed a high premium on meeting regulatory deadlines required under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-reform law and providing a forum for consumers to air complaints about financial offerings.
A former Ohio attorney general who originally joined the consumer bureau as the head of its enforcement division, he has charted a course that aims to flex the CFPB's muscle to go after specific abuses, such as unfair credit-card lending while trying not to clamp down too hard on the flow of credit.
"We are making great progress on standing up this agency and turning it into a powerful voice for consumers," Cordray said. "We have established, and continue to work to establish, a reputation for doing our work in a balanced and reasonable way that is very open and accessible to a wide range of viewpoints, all of which help inform us as we continue to do our work."
Cordray, 54, is from Ohio and had a well-established career as a lawyer and in state politics before coming to Washington. He served as Ohio treasurer, Franklin County treasurer, the state's first solicitor general, and as a state representative for the 33rd Ohio House District. Cordray has argued seven cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including by special appointment of both the Clinton and Bush Justice departments, and he clerked for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.
Cordray has a B.A. from Michigan State University, an M.A. from Oxford University, and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. He is also a five-time Jeopardy champion.