Citing Bizarre Email, Consumer Watchdog Calls for Mulvaney Congressional Investigation

EXPOSED: Mulvaney’s CFPB Dropped Investigation of Predatory Lender That Gave Him Thousands in Campaign Cash – Within Days the Company’s Former CEO was Personally Asking Mulvaney to Consider Her as His Replacement

** Congress Held Four Oversight Hearings with Former CFPB Director Cordray During His First 100 Days on the Job – There Have Been Zero Hearings with Mulvaney During his 99-Day Tenure **


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, consumer watchdog organization Allied Progress called on the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee to investigate the troubling conduct and conflicts of interest of Mick Mulvaney. Thus far Congress has yet to hold a single oversight hearing with Mulvaney in his capacity as “acting director” of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – a post he has held for 99 days. Congress held at least four oversight hearings with former CFPB Director Richard Cordray during his first 100 days on the job.

In making the request, the organization also released an email obtained as the result of a Freedom of Information Act Request that paints the picture of a cozy relationship between Mulvaney and the former head of World Acceptance Corporation, a predatory lender that showered him with thousands of dollars in campaign cash.

After Mulvaney became “acting director” of the CFPB, the company announced in a press release that it received a letter from the bureau “indicating the investigation into the company’s marketing and lending practices [had] been completed” and that the CFPB “[did] not intend to recommend enforcement action.”

In the obtained email, former World Acceptance Corporation CEO Janet Lewis Matricciani tells Mulvaney she would like “to apply for the position of director of the CFPB,” as she had left her former company two days earlier. She goes on to say that she was “very pleased that the CFPB closed the investigation into World” Acceptance Corporation, noting that she “always enjoyed” interactions with Mulvaney “on business and regulatory situations ever since [she] became CEO” of the company in 2015. Mulvaney forwarded the email from his OMB account to his CFPB account the following day. It appears the email was initially sent to Mulvaney’s personal account.

Some would look at this and call it presumptuous. Others might even call it crazy. We call it predictable. As ‘acting director’ of the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney has set a disturbing tone – he has greased up the revolving door, announcing the hiring of individuals to senior CFPB posts with deep ties to the big banks, predatory lenders, and Wall Street special interest the bureau should be holding accountable. Worse still, he appears to be doing favors for these powerful financial industry players who showered him with $1.3 million in campaign cash before he came to the CFPB.,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.

He continued, “Why did a former predatory lender like Janet Lewis Matricciani think she could ask Mulvaney to help her become the next full-time director of the CFPB? The answer is simple – her former company gave him thousands of dollars and his actions at the bureau betray a contempt for consumers so deep that she would feel right at home in his job. Now it is time forCongress to step up and do its job. Mulvaney must answer for his blatant conflicts of interest and anti-consumer actions.”

The emails obtained by Allied Progress as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, can be viewed here.

BACKGROUND:

  • The CFPB Was Investigating World Acceptance Corporation for Breaking Federal Laws Related to Its Loans. Then Mulvaney Became “Acting Director” And the Investigation Ended. In March 2014, the CFPB began an investigation on whether World Acceptance Corporation “is breaking federal laws in how it markets and offers its loans.” In January 2018, the CFPB completed its investigation into World Acceptance Corporation’s “marketing and lending practices.” The CFPB “does not intend to recommend enforcement action.” [Paul Kiel, “High-Cost Lender World Finance Target of Federal Probe,” ProPublica, 03/13/14; Press Release, World Acceptance Corporation, 01/22/18.]
  • Media Reports Revealed World Acceptance Corporation’s Loans Were “Deceptively Expensive” and “Trap Borrowers in Cycles of Debt.” In 2013, ProPublica did an investigation on World Acceptance Corp. that “showed how the company’s loans are deceptively expensive and often trap borrowers in a cycle of debt.” [Paul Kiel, “High-Cost Lender World Finance Target of Federal Probe,” ProPublica, 03/13/14.]
  • In an Email Obtained by Allied Progress, the Former CEO of World Acceptance Corporation Asked Mulvaney to Help Her Apply for His Job. On January 24, 2018 at 6:10pm, former World Acceptance Corporation CEO Janet Lewis Matricciani sent an email to Mulvaney requesting “to apply for the position of director of the CFPB,” as she had left her former company two days earlier. She said she was “very pleased that the CFPB closed the investigation into World” Acceptance Corporation, noting that she “always enjoyed” interactions with Mulvaney “on business and regulatory situations ever since [she] became CEO” of the company in 2015. Mulvaney forwarded the email from his OMB to his CFPB account the following day. [CFPB-2018-223-F FOIA Response.]
  • Emails Also Obtained by Allied Progress, Show Mulvaney’s New CFPB Hires Debated How to Explain the Bureau’s Decision to Drop the Investigation into His Donor, Ultimately Saying It Was “Made in the Normal Course by Career Enforcement Staff, Not the Director.” On January 23, at 5:08pm, Brian Johnson emailed Eric Blankenstein about responding to a press inquiry about why the CFPB had dropped their inquiry into World Acceptance Corporation. He wrote that he needed “factual review and feedback on…two drafts” of a statement. One of the two statements was redacted, while the other stressed that the decision to drop the investigation was “made in the normal course by career Enforcement staff, not the director.” [CFPB-2018-223-F FOIA Response]
  • Which May Sound Familiar. Mulvaney’s Spokesperson Was Recently Forced to Admit Mulvaney Was Involved in a Decision to Withdraw a CFPB Case Against a Different Predatory Lender after Saying He Was Not Involved. Mulvaney’s press representative claimed that the decision to drop a lawsuit against predatory lender Golden Valley was made by “professional career staff,” and not Mulvaney himself. However, several CFPB staffers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told a reporter that “Mulvaney decided to drop the lawsuit even though the entire career enforcement staff wanted to press ahead with it.” Mulvaney’s press representative finally admitted “that Mulvaney was indeed involved in the decision to drop the lawsuit.” [Chris Arnold, “Trump Administration Plans To Defang Consumer Protection Watchdog,” NPR, 02/12/08]
  • During His First 100 Days on the Job, Former CFPB Director Richard Cordray Testified in Congress at Least Four Times. [Testimony of Richard Cordray, Hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs, 01/31/12; Testimony of Richard Cordray, Hearing of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, 01/31/12; Testimony of Richard Cordray, Hearing of the House Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, 02/15/12; Testimony of Richard Cordray, Hearing of the House Committee on Financial Services, 03/29/12; David Nakamura, “Obama appoints Richard Cordray to head consumer watchdog bureau,” The Washington Post, 01/04/12.]

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