Poll: Many Rural Americans Struggle With Financial Insecurity, Access To Health Care

National Public Radio is out with a new poll underlining what tons of rural Ohioans have known for years now: Many rural Americans are struggling with financial insecurity and access to health care. And it’s an important datapoint as 2020 gets underway, and leftist cries about “economic anxiety” being code for “racism” get louder.

Some key findings of the poll:

A substantial number (40%) of rural Americans struggle with routine medical bills, food and housing. And about half (49%) say they could not afford to pay an unexpected $1,000 expense of any type.

One-quarter of respondents (26%) said they have not been able to get health care when they needed it at some point in recent years. That’s despite the fact that nearly 9 in 10 (87%) have health insurance of some sort — a level of coverage that is higher now than a decade ago, in large part owing to the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid in many states.

[…]

Of those not able to get health care when they needed it, the poll found that 45% could not afford it, 23% said the health care location was too far or difficult to get to, and 22% could not get an appointment during the hours needed.

[…]

One measure of financial security is the ability to meet unexpected expenses like a car repair or a medical problem or fixing something that has gone wrong in the house. It’s not unusual for these expenses to run $1,000 or more, so we asked whether that would be a problem.

Overall, nearly half (49%) said they wouldn’t be able to afford that. And more than 6 in 10 rural black and Latinx Americans said they would have a problem paying that off (blacks, 68%; Latinx, 62%), compared with 45% of rural whites.

This is important data for Ohioans for a couple of reasons.

First, as we all remember, former Gov. Kasich expanded Medicaid– but that hasn’t solved these problems. As the numbers above show, having health care coverage is not enough when patients are physically remote from health care providers, or providers are so overloaded from other rural providers closing that it’s tough to get an appointment.

Second, the financial data make clear that economic anxiety is very real for a lot of stereotypical Trump voters in Ohio. If one cannot afford an emergency $1,000 expense, that is inherently anxiety-inducing and a problem. “Economic anxiety” is not a talking point.

There are a few bits of good news here.

One is that President Trump has taken steps to bolster rural health care by doing things like setting rules affecting the 340B drug discount program on which lots of rural, working class voters rely but which also helps keep rural health care providers in particular functioning.

Another is that tax reform may help some of these Ohioans, particularly if they have children.

Further, starting under Gov. Kasich, parts of Ohio’s economy began to turn around and the Midwest in general seems to be benefiting from President Trump’s economic policies (damage to soybean farmers notwithstanding).

But the poll data shows there is still real trouble in rural America, a lot of which rests in Ohio. The question is will Democrats seize upon that to successfully shift the state in 2020, or are rural, white working class voters satisfied that their lot is improving enough under Trump to give him a second term? Our guess is the latter, but the numbers make clear there is still lots of work to be done.

New suit against the Ohio State University threatens Jim Jordan?

Yesterday, 37 former athletes at the Ohio State University filed a lawsuit against the institution– the fourth such lawsuit to be filed since news of the sex abuse scandal plaguing the university’s athletics department broke.

A majority of the plaintiffs in this case are football players, and have chosen to remain anonymous.

The inclusion of football players is expected to focus vastly more attention on this suit than previous suits filed, although all of them could eventually be consolidated into one guaranteeing more attention for plaintiffs who sued earlier.

According to the New York Times, the new suit claims university officials “aided, abetted and actively concealed” sexual assaults by Dr. Richard H. Strauss during his tenure as an athletic department doctor.

The suit means more bad press for the university, which recently released a 182-page report detailing assaults.

But it also could mean more bad press for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Lima).

Neither the report nor the suit name Jordan. However, the report named very few officials full stop. Jordan’s office has maintained that the report cleared him, despite the report only failing to namecheck him, as was the case with the majority of officials referenced in the report.

If the lawsuit reaches court, the lawyer leading it has pledged to call Jordan as a witness, along with other coaches, administrators, and relevant personnel.

According to the Times, Wright, the lawyer, said of Jordan Wednesday “We want to know what he knew, when he knew it and what he did with the information.”

Jordan has consistently maintained he did not know of any alleged abuse.

However, the wide array and sheer volume of athletes suing could cause some tracking the scandal to query how that could possibly be true.

The university could, of course, choose to settle the lawsuit and avoid the prospect of a full trial with voluminous testimony being given– testimony that could potentially clear Jordan or incriminate him.

For now, though, stories like these are not helpful for the Lima congressman.

We’ll continue to track these cases.

Ohio War on HIV Watch: Is Gilead really being all that charitable with anti-HIV meds?

As previously noted, the Trump administration is moving to combat the HIV epidemic, which has become especially bad in Ohio. This matters a lot because while Ohio doesn’t look like it will be a swing state in 2020, in practice it could be if issues tied to the opioid crisis are not brought under control and truly combated.

The Trump administration is already at work combating HIV here and elsewhere where higher use of injectable drugs has kicked off an epidemic. One effort involves leveraging the existing 340B drug discount program to get Truvada– anti-HIV medication– to the less well-off, more vulnerable populations that need it. Another involves Trump’s continued use of the bully pulpit to try to force drug prices down. As a reminder, this matters a lot because Truvada can retail for $20,000 for a year’s treatment.

The former approach relies on an already well-established program that entails nothing “new” to be done, other than for providers in the 340B program to get Truvada into exposed people. The latter, however, entails getting Gilead Sciences, the maker of Truvada, to actually drop its prices or get charitable fast. So of course, people tracking this issue were delighted to see news earlier this month that Gilead Sciences had announced it would donate enough doses of Truvada to cover up to 200,000 people for the next 11 years.

But is it really good news? Or at least wholly good news?

Washington DC publication Axios noted in a newsletter that Gilead has a new anti-HIV drug that’s almost ready to hit the market, Descovy, and it appears that generic versions of Truvada are also forthcoming. That makes the drug giant’s move seem less charitable and more… self-serving.

Donated Truvada will apparently only be available for uninsured patients, and not those on Medicaid or Medicare. And by limiting the “donated” Truvada this way, Gilead is potentially ensuring massive demand for Descovy– or such is the view of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Rochelle Walensky who was quoted by the New York Times.

Gilead is also one of the biggest corporate opponents of the 340B program and has been working to curtail it for years. If it were to succeed, that would further limit access to Truvada. The upshot being that while President Trump deserves credit for what his administration is doing to combat HIV, it’s possible the most important drugmaker in the space is still playing games to try to build a market for themselves while limiting access for existing, vulnerable populations.

It’s also worth remembering that Joe Grogan, a former Gilead lobbyist, occupies a particularly important office in the. administration where drug pricing is concerned. That could facilitate Trump getting the message to Gilead more quickly that this charitable move is good, but not enough, or alternatively lead to Gilead having greater insight into how to work around Trump to achieve their objectives while stifling the President’s work.

Trump moves on Ohio’s HIV epidemic. Will the state be further out of play for Dems in 2020?

Southern Ohio sits at the center of America’s ground zero where the opioid crisis is concerned.

Few people from the Cincinnati area are likely to forget anytime soon the 2017 Cincinnati Enquirer feature “Seven Days of Heroin: This is what an epidemic looks like.” Depending on who you ask, things may have improved since then.

But one problem Ohio continues to grapple with is too-high rates of HIV transmission– especially in suburban and rural areas. According to the CDC:

[I]n the South, 23% of new HIV diagnoses are in suburban and rural areas, and in the Midwest 21% are suburban or rural—higher proportions than in the Northeast and West.

Indeed, Ohio’s HIV transmission rate sits at 8.8 per 100,000 people, compared to 4.3 per 100,000 in neighboring, opioid-ravaged West Virginia.

So, stopping HIV transmission is a live issue in the Buckeye State in the 2020 presidential election, which explains a lot why President Trump devoted special attention to the topic in this year’s State of the Union and why his administration is already working on combating HIV using existing tools in the political and governmental arsenal.

One of those is of course the bully pulpit, which Trump frequently seizes to make drugmakers look like rapacious thugs jeopardizing Americans’ health to bank higher profits. The bully pulpit and strong position of the federal government to generate bad press for pharmaceutical companies is de facto being used by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to negotiate with Gilead– the maker of anti-HIV drug Truvada– to force down its cost.

But the Trump administration is also leaning in, using an existing no-cost-to-taxpayers program to get HIV-related medications into the hands of poorer, especially rural, Americans like a lot of the Ohio-based opioid addicts at higher risk of contracting HIV.

That program is called 340B and it’s been around since former President George H W Bush signed it into law. Basically, it says that in exchange for Big Pharma companies getting access to entitlement money, which they use as a foundation for their very solid financial bottom lines, drug companies have to offer discounts on a bunch of their products for the benefit of poorer Americans. The program doesn’t just benefit individual, less-well-off consumers. It also helps keep open rural health care providers like those that poor, rural HIV-susceptible patients visit. And it’s what the Trump administration is relying on to get moving on combating HIV in places like Ohio.

Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said at a Kaiser Family Foundation event on April 22 that “Community health centers leveraging the 340B program, where we get highly competitive prices, are really the way to go” where distributing HIV-prevention drugs like Truvada is concerned. Jen Kates, vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation validated that plan stating that community health centers within 340B could become “front-line provider[s]” for getting Truvada “to a wider group of people and to communities.” This matters because Truvada can retail for $1,600-1,700 for a 30-day supply– a price tag that puts it well outside the realm of the affordable for most Ohioans, including those most at risk. 340B makes it more accessible and/or cheaper to a bunch of target patients.

Trump won in 2016 because in states like Ohio, he brought out often-disinclined-to-vote rural and suburban voters who ranked high on the misery index. That meant people hit very hard by the opioid crisis, including its knock-on effects like too-high HIV transmission rates. These people and their family members have become core Republican voters, when before, perhaps they voted Democratic or just didn’t vote because they felt ignored by the political system and marginalized socially, economically, and democratically.

Democrats are bound to make a play for these voters in 2020, too, but in the short term, Trump is putting them in something of a jam because he has prioritized issues key to combating opioid-related aspects of misery in Trump country– drug-smuggling and cartels, reforming the criminal justice system so it’s less punitive to those who fell afoul of criminal laws thanks to their drug consumption or side-dealing, and yes, bringing HIV transmission rates down.

There are a lot of reasons Ohio doesn’t look today like the swing state it was in 2008 or 2012, but this is probably one of them. Trump may not be popular nationwide or overall with voters, but for a lot of Ohioans who previously felt totally ignored by politicians, Trump is delivering.

Jim Jordan leads on stopping clash between Congress and Trump on security clearances

Rep. Jim Jordan is stepping up to try to resolve a standoff between the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the White House relating to testimony concerning security clearances.

Those who have followed this debate know that Democrats see a huge potential liability in the matter of how security clearances were or were not distributed among White House staffers. Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings looks ready to roast the White House if Carl Kline, a former White House official, doesn’t testify– specifically by holding a contempt vote.

Jordan doesn’t want that, and sent this letter today to the White House attempting to resolve the standoff.

(H/T Kyle Cheney, Twitter)

Jordan detractors may be surprised by the move, given his fire-breathing nature and frequently-observed interest in conflicts that allow him to side with the President in major battles with congressional Democrats.

However, this is the smart move having regard to the political damage that a contempt vote might do, and also having regard to Jordan’s reputation and the degree to which he might occasionally benefit from looking like a problem-solver and not a bomb-thrower.

No word yet on whether or not the White House has any interest in taking Jordan up on his offer in the letter, or indeed whether Cummings is actually fully on board with what Jordan proposes in it. But it’s an interesting move on a high-profile issue from the Lima Republican.

Fun with numbers: Kasich pretty popular with college kids, just not Republicans overall

As rumors continue to swirl that President Trump antagonist and former Gov. John Kasich will throw his hat in the presidential ring, some interesting numbers are popping up about Kasich’s potential pathway to victory– or lack thereof.

Data point #1: According to late March Morning Consult polling, Kasich would get 13 percent against Trump in a GOP presidential primary. That’s a little less than the percentage he got in a University of New Hampshire, New Hampshire-only poll done in February, which put his support at 17 percent.

Data point #2: Kasich, however, is the top choice for apparently quite a lot of young people according to this new poll from College Reaction.

In this one, they didn’t test Kasich head-to-head against Trump– a scenario in which he likely pulls in a bunch of #nevertrumpers who otherwise aren’t sold on Kasich and maybe offered Howard Schultz or Larry Hogan as their first choices, but would take Kasich over the President. They simply asked college students who they’d vote for. And in that scenario, Kasich would get about 8 percent, straight up, not factoring in who else was on the ballot whatsoever.

8 percent is a pretty danged high number for a former governor who didn’t make much of a dent in 2016 apart from winning his home state and appearing towards the end of the contest as someone who could have been viable if he’d campaigned harder upfront.

Ohio political reporters and bloggers know well the numerous stories about how Kasich generally interacts better with younger people and kids than he does core Republican voters– older, and more conservative– or even Gen Xers.

Might John Kasich be the foremost GOP politician of our time who would benefit if the voting age were lowered to 16? Trump, who is physically in the Oval Office and has universal name ID, only just about doubles Kasich’s first-choice numbers in the College Reaction poll.

It sure underlines that if Kasich runs, he’s going to have to focus just about all of his attention on college campuses and young voter turnout operations to pick off any delegates from Trump.

NHGOP cage match over Kasich versus Trump?

It’s not exactly clear that many conservatives out there are interested in the potential primary match-up between President Trump and outgoing Ohio Gov. John Kasich. But apparently, some in New Hampshire are– and it’s causing quite the cage match brawl in the Granite State’s GOP apparatus.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Apparently scaring the crap out of New Hampshire Trump backers, for whatever reason, since December 2018.

“First In The Nation” publication NH Journal reported last Wednesday that New Hampshire Trump supporters were planning to push a rule change to “let the party back POTUS” in the 2020 New Hampshire GOP primary.

Said Trump backers are Bruce Breton, a Windham, NH selectman and NH state Rep. Fred Doucette , a member of the incoming House GOP leadership and New Hampshire co-chair of Trump for President.

Breton clearly sees a failure by party officials to back the President as something that will electorally doom Trump in 2020, telling NH Journal “History shows that when Republicans don’t back the incumbent, we lose the seat.”

He’s basically right. Setting aside the NHGOP’s specific rules, and the specific outcome of primaries in the state, history shows that when a primary challenge to a sitting GOP President even gets out of the gate, the GOP President tends to wind up losing the general election. We saw it with Ford. We saw it with George H.W. Bush. And it’s likely what a bunch of Kasich-backers are banking on; they’re not specifically interested in elevating Kasich to President, nor are they convinced they can do so. But they do believe that if he picks off even a handful of delegates in a primary contest, it will weaken or at least signify weakness on Trump’s part to the extent that he loses in the 2020 general election. That’s a key objective for the #nevertrump crowd.

But is it for everyone else?

Likely not. Every so often, we see polls pop up indicating that Republicans are open to a primary challenge to Trump. That’s probably a fairer estimation of where Republicans as a whole sit– not in the “shut down any challenger using whatever tactics are available” camp that Breton and Doucette seem to occupy, and also not in the “beat Trump by any means available” camp that Kasich backers apparently have built.

Which is presumably part of why, history and tradition aside, newly re-elected Gov. Chris Sununu is saying he opposes Breton and Doucette’s proposal.

That’s not because Sununu is a pro-Kasich guy, though. It’s probably more because if New Hampshire threw its neutrality rules by the wayside, it would likely imperil its position as the state that holds the country’s “First In The Nation” primary in future presidential contests. Set aside the loss of prestige that would entail, it would also be a massive loss of revenue to the state– whether among political consultants, or even the travel and tourism industry.

In any event, says Sununu, “Whether it’s a primary for the New Hampshire House or the White House, the New Hampshire State Republican Committee must remain neutral in primaries… After hard-fought primaries, the State Party is the vehicle to unite Republicans, and that is hard to accomplish if they try and tilt the scales for any candidate.”

New Hampshire’s Republican National Committeeman Steve Duprey certainly thinks the Granite State’s “First In The Nation” status would be jeopardized by ditching the party-leadership neutrality rule. He also thinks Trump has benefited from party leadership-neutrality, telling NH Journal “if we didn’t have the neutrality rule in 2016, Donald Trump might not have won New Hampshire. At the time,  many voters weren’t even sure he was serious about his race.”

Sick burn.

It seems that Breton either isn’t buying it, or doesn’t care. When the state party meets on January 26, he intends to push for the change to scupper the NHGOP’s neutrality rule. Breton says he is drafting language for the revised, non-neutrality rule even as we speak.

Breton and Doucette’s behavior and statements lead to some contradictory conclusions. On the one hand, they think ditching the neutrality rule is necessary because, apparently given their statements, if the NHGOP does not, Trump will become George H W Bush and lose to whoever 2020’s Bill Clinton is thanks to Kasich playing Pat Buchanan. On the other, Breton and Doucette are saying that Trump is totally not vulnerable. Nope, not at all. Per Doucette, “even if he is contested [in a GOP primary], he’d win easily.”

Ultimately, the fact that the rule change is even under discussion seems to be a positive sign for Kasich.

Clearly, if it occurs and the whole NHGOP apparatus decides to endorse Trump, that would be a kick in the teeth.

But it’s pretty clear, based on Sununu’s statements, that he– the biggest dog in the NHGOP– isn’t going to be endorsing Trump or anyone, which gives tacit approval to New Hampshire Republicans giving Kasich a good look.

And if it doesn’t occur, Kasich enters the primary with less official opposition than he otherwise would, which even in an anti-establishment state like New Hampshire probably helps him.

Though that’s not the message being deployed by Team Kasich. Longtime GOP strategist John Weaver, who has advised Kasich, told NH Journal that the “non-neutrality” measure “could be the beginning of the end for #FITNRegardless of worried Trump low travelers circling the wagon, NH citizens take their responsibility seriously & won’t take kindly to this scared yet arrogant approach.”

Meanwhile, Trump seems to want a primary challenge in 2020, saying “I hope so” in response to the question of whether Kasich or outgoing Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake might run against him.

It looks like he’ll get his wish with Kasich, who we can expect to see spending more and more time in New Hampshire in the coming months.

Cordray deploys wife to distract from #metoo, discrimination problems in record

Ohio Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray has recently taken to deploying his wife, Peggy, on the campaign trail in a possible effort to detract from #metoo and discrimination problems in his record that have been uncovered by Ohio conservative media in recent months.

Joined by former Gov. Ted Strickland’s wife, Peggy Cordray recently took to the campaign trail to argue that her husband would be better for Ohio women than Attorney General Mike DeWine because, per WTAP, “women will have a large presence in a Cordray administration.”

But the Ohio Attorney General’s office, under DeWine, has a strong record of hiring women into key senior positions. Mary Mertz serves as First Assistant Attorney General. Kim Murnieks serves as Chief Operating Officer for DeWine. Pamela Vest-Boratyn serves as DeWine’s General Counsel. As a U.S. Senator, he also had a female Chief of Staff, Laurel Pressler.

By contrast, while Cordray’s CFPB certainly employed many women, the agency was plagued with sex discrimination and sexual harassment claims.

Under Cordray, the CFPB was the subject of so many Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaints by women and minorities that its record of discrimination was investigated by the U.S. House of Representatives.

A quarter of CFPB’s African-American, Asian-American and female employees told the General Accounting Office (GAO) that they had been the targets of discrimination at the agency. The GAO subsequently ripped the Bureau for failing to provide a “fair and inclusive workplace.”

In particular, the GAO called out CFPB for prioritizing “personal connections” and maintaining an attitude of “favoritism” in hiring, as opposed to hiring based on merit.

Many former employees of the Bureau under Cordray have described it as a “toxic” place to work.

Robert Cauldwell, the first president of the CFPB labor union, told the Ohio Star that abuses at CFPB were “systemic” and “beyond the pale,” though he has faulted Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who was originally intended to head CFPB for the hiring of abusive managers and blames Cordray for keeping them in place.

Cauldwell has vocally pushed back on the notion that Cordray is a champion of the advancement of women, anti-discrimination, and anti-harassment policy.

“This idea that Rich Cordray was fair to employees and a proponent of inclusiveness is just wrong. It’s a joke,” he told the Star. “Not only was there unfair systems in place but we had the most EEOC complaints of any agency in the federal government even though we were one of the smallest agencies, by far, with only about 1,200 people at the time.”

According to Cauldwell, CFPB paid approximately $5 million to address discrimination in performance reviews.

Broadly, Cordray has been most attacked by his former staff for prioritizing hiring well-connected lefty activist figures over more qualified individuals, as opposed to allowing influential men hired by the agency to engage in Harvey Weinstein-type behavior and rampant discrimination.

Nonetheless, at least one former CFPB employee has told Third Base Politics that what went on CFPB under Cordray appears to be right out of the entertainment industry’s #metoo playbook.

Cordray’s record in this regard has largely gone un-scrutinized in the media, according to one Republican strategist because he is “a dishwater-dull, lackluster snooze-fest candidate.”

Be that as it may, given the recent raft of scandals plaguing everyone from big names in business to Members of Congress, Cordray’s record with regard to women employees seems worth of scrutiny, especially given his wife’s claims this week.

Could Issue 1 cripple Republicans down ballot?

The presence of Issue 1 on Ohio’s November ballot could cripple Republicans down ballot, making it impossible for the party to withstand a blue wave except in the gubernatorial race.

That is the worry being voiced by several GOP consultants across Ohio with less than 60 days to go until Election Day 2018.

Ballotpedia describes Issue 1 this way:

Ohio Issue 1, the Drug and Criminal Justice Policies Initiative, is on the ballot in Ohio as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 6, 2018.

A “yes” vote supports this constitutional amendment to:

  • make offenses related to drug possession and use no more than misdemeanors;
  • prohibit courts from ordering persons on probation for felonies be sent to prison for non-criminal probation violations;
  • create a sentence credits program for inmates’ participation in rehabilitative, work, or educational programs; and
  • require the state to spend savings due to a reduction of inmates, resulting from Issue 1, on drug treatment, crime victim, and rehabilitation programs.
A “no” vote opposes this constitutional amendment to:

  • make offenses related to drug possession and use no more than misdemeanors;
  • prohibit courts from ordering persons on probation for felonies be sent to prison for non-criminal probation violations;
  • create a sentence credits program for inmates’ participation in rehabilitative, work, or educational programs; and
  • require the state to spend savings due to a reduction of inmates, resulting from Issue 1, on drug treatment, crime victim, and rehabilitation programs.

Despite the fact that if passed, Issue 1 would likely aid a large number of white working class–i.e., Republican-inclined– voters who have developed addictions to illegal drugs in recent years, the worry is that the initiative is likely to spur more turnout than would otherwise be expected among Democratic-leaning minority communities and liberals.

That may partly be the effect of a wave of police shootings and advocacy from criminal justice reform groups that appears targeted at mobilizing left-of-center voters, as those easiest to reach in the wake of stories involving trigger-happy cops.

Those voters in Ohio do not appear motivated by Democratic gubernatorial nominee Richard Cordray’s presence at the top of the ticket. But Issue 1 is motivating to them.

Republican consultants believe the DeWine campaign is well-positioned to avoid a loss as a result of these voters turning out.

However, some are concerned that down ballot Republican candidates have not factored in higher-than-normal turnout of voters inclined to support their Democratic opponents as a result of Issue 1’s presence on the ballot.

That could mean a DeWine win coupled with numerous unforeseen Democratic victories on the night.

It is unclear what further steps can be taken at this juncture to guard against higher turnout thanks to Issue 1 resulting in Democratic wins, especially as President Obama’s visit to Cleveland this past week seems to have been designed to motivate many of the same voters attracted to by the prospect of voting “Yes” on Issue 1 to turn out.

However, Republican candidates should be girding their loins as much as they still can.

A DeWine win may not translate down ballot, and if House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is to be believed, ballot initiatives can make or break congressional campaigns.

Obama tries to dress Cordray up as an above-the-fray leader in Cleveland. But Cordray’s record shows something else.

Yesterday, former President Barack Obama stumped for Democrat Richard Cordray in Cleveland.

 

But in the course of typical Obama-standard eloquent and articulate remarks, the former Commander-in-Chief seems to have glossed over a bunch of flaws in Cordray’s record that directly contradict Obama’s portrayal of him.

In yesterday’s speech, Obama characterized Republicans as “try[ing] to pit one against another.” While the comment was ostensibly relevant to immigration policy, Cincinnati-based GOP consultant Dan Blum who works on financial services regulatory issues and is a Cordray critic pointed out in an email to Ohio political reporters that “there were… lots of politics being played inside Cordray’s CFPB,” which allegedly included “loads of discrimination against conservative or Republican employees at the CFPB.”

cordray

Blum’s assertion was backed up by a former CFPB employee-turned-whistleblower in an email seen by Muckraker.

That whistleblower, and some former colleagues, have become Cordray’s fiercest– if not entirely visible– critics in the race for governor. They assert that Cordray oversaw a toxic work environment where employees were routinely pitted against each other and discrimination was rampant.

When Obama nominated Cordray to head the CFPB, he said that “We can’t let politics stand in the way of doing the right thing in Washington.”

But according to reports, as CFPB Chief, Cordray ran an agency that “was hit with an unprecedented number of complaints under Cordray’s watch, including alleged discrimination against women, blacks, older workers, immigrants and gays.”

That is in addition to anti-Republican and anti-conservative discrimination, which was allegedly the worst and most prevalent discrimination within the bureau.

Blum also pointed out to reporters the contrast between Obama’s statement when nominating Cordray and the reality of how Cordray ultimately secured the job at CFPB. “When Republicans blocked Cordray’s nomination on grounds that the structure of the CFPB was somewhere between bad and unconstitutional… Obama put Cordray in on a recess appointment that broke with prior precedent on how recess appointments are used,” Blum said in an email.
Blum also asserts that Cordray quit his job as CFPB chief in an “overtly political way… Cordray tried to name his chief of staff as CFPB deputy director so that she could serve as acting director. Ultimately courts saw through this bogus plan.”
Criticisms of Cordray as operating well within the frame of politics-as-usual are highly relevant in 2018, given that many swing and Independent voters– whose support he seeks to attract– are manifestly put off by alleged politicization of non-political roles in government under the Trump administration, and increasing partisan divides that result in continual sniping between parties with few policy results being achieved.
While staunch Republicans and conservatives are unlikely to believe the hype that President Obama did not himself engage in many of these same shenanigans, it is not helpful for Cordray to be perceived as a dime-a-dozen political hack, especially in a race with Attorney General Mike DeWine whose profile has lately been more associated with non-partisan issues like addressing the opioid crisis than the usual inter-party slugfests.
However, there remains a reluctance on the part of some Ohio media to dive into Cordray’s record because of his image as extremely bland and uninteresting. However, as one critic of Cordray routinely puts it, “his actual record at CFPB is an opposition research treasure trove.”
Muckraker will continue exploring it.