In an appearance on Meet the Press this Sunday, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski called on President Donald Trump to fire Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“I think Richard Cordray is campaigning now for governor of Ohio … If he wants to go run for governor of Ohio, go do it,” Lewandowski told host Chuck Todd. “But my concern is you’ve got an unelected bureaucrat sitting in an office right now, and I hope that the new [White House] chief of staff looks at him moving forward and saying [sic] it’s time to act decisively.”
Former President Barack Obama appointed Cordray as the first head of CFPB in July 2011, and the Senate confirmed him in July 2013 after a contentious confirmation battle.
Trump has long wanted to get rid of Cordray, Politico reported in April, but has held off out of fear that firing Cordray would boost his rumored campaign for Ohio governor. Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, has yet to officially announce a gubernatorial campaign. But Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill told Cleveland.com and Politico earlier this month that Cordray is planning to run.
“He would clear the field,” GOP strategist Mark Weaver told Politico in June about a possible Cordray campaign to replace Ohio governor and 2016 Republican presidential candidate John Kasich, whose term expires next year.
A federal law called the Hatch Act bars federal employees from using their office to campaign or influence an election. Lewandowski did not mention the act by name, but he seemed to allude to it in calling for Trump to oust Cordray.
“He’s an unelected official. He’s all but announced that he’s running for governor of Ohio. If he wants to run for governor of Ohio, go run for governor of Ohio. But don’t do so when you’re sitting in a federal office right now,” Lewandowski said Sunday.
Lewandowski will campaign for U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-OH), one of the Republican gubernatorial candidates, at a Cleveland yacht club next week, BuzzFeed News reported. Vice President Mike Pence has also campaigned for Renacci, who is a vocal Trump supporter.
A former Trump campaign manager, Lewansowski remains close to the president and sometimes travels aboard Air Force One.
It wasn’t immediately clear from Lewandowski’s comments Sunday what makes Cordray’s rumored run different from Renacci’s, other than that Renacci holds an elected position while Cordray is a political appointee. But other prominent Republicans have come under similar criticism.
Earlier this month, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel alleging that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has violated the Hatch Act by using his position on Trump’s Election Integrity Commission to campaign for governor of Kansas.
“The Hatch Act may not categorically bar Mr. Kobach from listing his role on the Commission among other biographical details in campaign literature,” the complaint reads, “but his extraordinarily aggressive promotion of his Commission role — including in soliciting campaign donations — far exceeds any such acceptable use.”
Kobach’s office has dismissed the allegation. “This is nothing but a bunch of liberal lawyers trying to create a story,” spokesperson Samantha Poetter told CNN earlier this month.