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How To Ruin Your Political Career: Run a Federal Agency

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Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau House Subcommittee on Oversight and Reform

There was a time when running a major federal agency in Washington was a way to raise one’s profile, politically and otherwise, back home. Apparently, that time is no more -- at least in Ohio.

Politico’s MJ Lee reports that Richard Cordray, who currently runs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is doing great damage to his political reputation in his home state by spending so much time in Washington serving as the top executive at a critical federal agency that is still getting off the ground.

“In the space of a few years, Cordray has gone from a fast-rising Ohio politician to someone with all the makings of an administration lifer, dug in at a divisive consumer agency that’s still finding its footing in a deeply polarized government,” Lee writes.

Cordray apparently has neglected to spend much time consulting with political operatives back in his home state because he appears to be distracted by actually doing his federal job. He’s only a year into a five-year term, and seems to be seriously considering fulfilling all or most of his commitment. Merely traveling back to Ohio on weekends apparently is not enough.

Of course, it’s possible that Cordray didn’t take the CFPB job because he wanted to use it as a steppingstone to political office. It might just be that he’s interested in the mission of the agency and wants to see it succeed.

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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