WASHINGTON — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray sent an email to staff Wednesday announcing that he is departing the bureau.

Cordray has long been rumored to be planning to run for governor in Ohio, but he did not announce his intentions in the letter about his plans following his departure.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray
“I wanted to share with each of you directly what I have told the senior leadership in the past few days, which is that I expect to step down from my position here before the end of the month,” CFPB Richard Cordray said in a note to staff. Bloomberg News

“I wanted to share with each of you directly what I have told the senior leadership in the past few days, which is that I expect to step down from my position here before the end of the month,” Cordray said in the note.

Cordray helped stand up the bureau, which was created by Dodd-Frank, and was confirmed as director in 2013.

“As I have said many times, but feel just as much today as I ever have, it has been a joy of my life to have the opportunity to serve our country as the first director of the Consumer Bureau,” said Cordray, who added that the bureau has “made a real and lasting difference that has improved people’s lives, notably: $12 billion in relief recovered for nearly 30 million consumers.”

While Cordray’s term as the bureau’s director included many high-profile actions including a massive enforcement action against Wells Fargo over the bank's fake-account scandal, it was also a tumultuous one marked by tensions between the bureau and Republicans.

Credit unions, which have long viewed themselves as looking out for consumers well before the bureau even existed, had a tense relationship with Cordray and the CFPB, aligned in various aspects of a shared mission, but often clashing with the bureau over what many in the credit union movement viewed as too often writing "one-size-fits-all" regulations that failed to exempt credit unions when they could have done so.

Both the Credit Union National Association and National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions were quick to release statements as news broke of Cordray's exit.

"We greatly appreciate that throughout his time as Director, Richard Cordray on multiple occasions publicly recognized the exceptional work of credit unions in protecting consumers," said CUNA President and CEO Jim Nussle. "CUNA looks forward to a new era at the CFPB that will hopefully reconcile this recognition that credit unions are the pro-consumer protection financial institutions, with rules that reflect that sentiment. Moving forward, CUNA urges the CFPB’s new leadership to address the problems that pending and final rules have caused credit unions and their 110 million members, and move towards a new approach that recognizes the exceptional consumer protections credit unions provide, while continuing to address abusers of consumers."

NAFCU CEO Dan Berger commended Cordray for his willingness to meet often with credit unions and hear their concerns, but noted that the movement continues to have issues with the CFPB.

"We continue to believe that credit unions should never have been lumped into the same regulatory bucket as the big banks and look forward to continuing to work with new leadership to address credit union issues," said Berger. "Credit unions support and believe in consumer protection, and did not engage in the abuses that led to the creation of the CFPB. Nonetheless, they have been unfairly swept into the tidal wave of new regulations that have come out of the Bureau."