COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Lawyers for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray demanded on Friday that Ohio television stations pull a Republican Governors Association ad alleging a consumer agency Cordray led secretly collected and left vulnerable Americans' personal financial data.
A cease and desist letter to station managers from the Perkins Coie law firm alleges the ad, titled "Cordray Failed," contains false statements that the Republican governors' group cannot back up.
Spokesman Jon Thompson said, "We stand by the ad."
Cordray and Republican Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine are in a high stakes race this November to succeed Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who's term-limited.
Among Cordray's signature accomplishments in appealing to voters is his time as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, first under Democratic President Barack Obama and then under Republican President Donald Trump. The agency was championed by Democrats and it is reviled by some Republicans.
The ads, paid for by the RGA Right Direction PAC, say Cordray "secretly collected personal information from hundreds of millions of accounts" and didn't protect it. They also claim the consumer bureau was "hacked over 200 times," presumably under Cordray's watch though that's not directly stated.
Cordray's lawyers wrote station managers that the claims are not true.
"The advertisement contains statements for which RGA publicly concedes there is no factual backup; and it makes other false assertions that are contradicted by evidence in the public record," according to the letter.
The letter notes that Cordray's successor, Mick Mulvaney, ordered a review of the bureau's "externally facing" systems when he took over in May and concluded they were well secured and ordered data collection to continue. The letter says the bureau was never "hacked."
Cordray's lawyers further argue that the bureau's collection of consumer information was not a secret but extensively debated, including at a public hearing. Cordray also wrote about it in the American Banker, noting in a 2013 op-ed that much of the data the bureau collects was already publicly available.