House Republicans edged closer Friday to citing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray for contempt of Congress, publishing a report finding that a panel has cause to do so based on his inadequate response to subpoenas.
The report is the latest GOP volley against the regulator, an Obama appointee whose policies conservatives have long criticized and who is speculated to seek the Ohio governorship as a Democrat.
The 36-page document concludes that "there is ample basis to proceed against Director Cordray for contempt of Congress" for not responding to multiple subpoenas from the House Financial Services Committee. The committee had sought to learn about the agency's communications with consumer rights groups in formulating a rule that would open up the financial industry to class-action lawsuits. Congressional Republicans have sought to kill the rule since Cordray finalized it last month.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Texas conservative who is chairman of the committee, had warned Cordray that he could face contempt proceedings if he finalized the rule without fulfilling the subpoenas.
Now, his committee has laid the groundwork for such a response.
A spokesman did not immediately respond to an inquiry about whether Hensarling had decided to follow through on the threat.
Maxine Waters, Hensarling's Democratic counterpart on the committee and a Californan, defended Cordray, saying in a statement that "the Republican attacks on Director Cordray and the Consumer Bureau are entirely baseless, and there are no grounds at all for them to hold the Director in contempt, as they are angling to do in the staff report released today."
House Republicans have declared Obama-appointed officials in contempt before. In 2012, the lower chamber voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for refusing to provide documents related to the investigation of the Fast and Furious scandal.