Richard Cordray '86 Begins Confirmation Hearings to Head CFPB

Richard Cordray started impressing people in politics when he was still a teenager. It was 1978, and Cordray was just another off-the-street volunteer for Dick Celeste's first campaign for governor of Ohio. The campaign office was a perpetually busy hub packed with young, bright people working on behalf of the Democratic hopeful. Cordray was a tall, reedy young man whose open smile and floppy blond hair made him look even younger than his 19 years.

But unlike most young volunteers, who spend lots of time flirting and socializing, Cordray, now nominated to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, simply put his head down and worked, remembers Greg Haas, who was a staff member on the campaign.

"You get hundreds of volunteers coming through a campaign office, and for any one of them to really stand out the way Rich did is pretty unusual," Haas says. "He just immediately caught your eye as a nice guy who was very smart and had everything going for him."

Years later, Haas served as Cordray's media advisor when Cordray ran for county and statewide offices. The two were friendly, Haas says, but not close. Haas's mother died in 2005. At the funeral home, Haas turned around to see Cordray sitting in the back row.

"We hadn't worked together for years," Haas says. "It was not a campaign stop, and there wasn't any percentage in it. He just spent three hours in a car to be at my mom's funeral because that's the kind of person he is."

Outside Ohio, few people have heard of Richard Cordray. His biggest step onto the national stage came in July, when President Obama nominated Cordray to become the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a new watchdog agency created to protect consumers from fraud and abuse by financial services companies. Cordray currently serves as director of the bureau's enforcement division.