How is it that a government worker gets to pick his own successor?


The director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has quit and named his own successor. But President Donald Trump had other ideas.

CFPB is a government agency created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. It was established as an independent agency, like the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Communications Commission, but the agency’s status is under review by the US Court of Appeals.

As Director Richard Cordray stepped down, he appointed Leandra English as deputy director, which made her the acting director upon his departure.

Cordray, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2011, is a lawyer and was a Democrat politician before becoming the first-ever head of CFPB.

As he left, Cordray wanted to ensure his policies at the agency would be perpetuated.

But President Trump immediately named White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney acting director.

Mick Mulvaney

“The President looks forward to seeing Director Mulvaney take a common sense approach to leading the CFPB’s dedicated staff, an approach that will empower consumers to make their own financial decisions and facilitate investment in our communities,” the White House said in a Friday night news release.

“Director Mulvaney will serve as Acting Director until a permanent director is nominated and confirmed,” the White House wrote.

Politico says the  Dodd-Frank Act, “explicitly says the consumer bureau’s deputy director shall ‘serve as acting Director in the absence or unavailability of the Director,’ giving the edge to English.”

Cordray’s power move was an attempt to prevent the president from appointing his successor, which raises a constitutional question:

Is a functionary of a government agency in a democracy empowered to name his or her own successor?

And it raises another question:

Is this part of the swamp that Trump said he was going to drain?

Weigh in.


  1. This is the swamp being drained. The Deputy Director gets to be Acting Director if the Director is Absent or unavailable. But right now the position is Vacant, which is why president Trump filled it using the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998.

    Senator Warren is wrong in her legal analysis of the case, and the the legal hairsplicing falls to Trumps favor.

  2. This episode highlights and underscores the extent to which those in the Swamp believe that they accountable to something or someone other than the citizens. You will find this attitude in many, particularly federal, agencies, where employees view their obligations as directed as to something other than the President and the Congress of the United States.

    I have seen the Swamp in action and will confirm that it exists. Many in Washington, D.C. have absolutely no regard for the welfare or thoughts of anyone living in “fly-over” country. Exhibit A: Lois Lerner.

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