Request Comes After Mulvaney Told Room Full of Bank Executives and Lobbyists That He Gave More Access to Lobbyists to Who Gave Him More Money
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, the New York Times reported that Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) “Acting Director” Mick Mulvaney told a room full of bank executives and lobbyists that, as a member of Congress, he gave more access to lobbyists gave him more money. The startling confession was paired with a call to action for those assembled to “continue” putting pressure on Congress. In response, consumer watchdog organization Allied Progress is calling on Mulvaney to release his congressional schedule and a list of all meetings he has held in his capacity as “acting director” of the CFPB.
“This startling confession raises serious ethical and legal questions. In the interest of transparency and accountability, we call on Mick Mulvaney to release his congressional schedule and a list of all meetings he has had in his capacity as the temporary leader of the CFPB. Only then can begin to understand the scope of this apparent pay-to-play arrangement,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.
He continued, “When you tell a room full of big bankers and their lobbyists that you gave more access to lobbyists who gave you more money and that they should continue putting pressure on Congress, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce what you are telling them to do.”
“Mulvaney must be held accountable for this unacceptable behavior which casts a dark cloud over his actions at the CFPB where he has made one decision after another that benefit the Wall Street special interests that bankrolled his congressional career with more than $1.2 million in campaign cash,” he concluded.
What You Need to Know
- Yesterday at a gathering of the American Bankers Association, Mick Mulvaney described the hierarchy in his former congressional office for taking meetings, noting “‘If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you.’” [Glenn Thrush, “Mulvaney, Watchdog Bureau’s Leader, Advises Bankers on Ways to Curtail Agency,” The New York Times, 04/24/18]
- In February, Mulvaney “rejected accusations” from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) that the CFPB’s “retreat on payday lending” had “to do with campaign donations [Mulvaney] received from the industry.” In his letter, Mulvaney wrote that “”I reject your insinuation…that my actions as acting Director are based on considerations other than a careful examination of the law and facts particular to any matter.'” [Kate Berry, “Gloves off in CFPB tug of war between Mulvaney, Warren,” American Banker, 02/23/18]
Industry Money Sure Buys a Lot
- Mulvaney has received at least $160,835 from lawyers and lobbyists over the course of his Congressional career. [Rep. Mick Mulvaney – South Carolina, OpenSecrets.org, accessed 04/25/18]
- Possible Pay-to-Play with Credit Union Special Interest Trade Group. During his Congressional Career, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) showered Mulvaney with $30,000 in campaign contributions. Their investment paid off when Mulvaney’s CFPB announced it would “reconsider various aspects” of new Home Mortgage Disclosure data reporting requirements designed to “identify… potential discriminatory lending practices in the marketplace” – an action CUNA described as “a significant win.” [“Home Mortgage Disclosure Act,” Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, accessed 02/01/17; Final Rule, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (Regulation C), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, accessed 02/01/18; Press Release, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 10/15/15; “NEW: CUNA: CFPB increases reg. burden with HMDA rule,” Credit Union National Association, 10/15/17; “Statement with respect to HMDA implementation,” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 12/21/17; Michael Bartlett, “Credit union trade groups cheer CFPB’s moves on HMDA, prepaid rules,” Credit Union Journal, 12/22/17; Search for Contributions to John Michael (Mick) Mulvaney, FollowTheMoney.org, accessed on 01/29/18]
- Thousands in contributions from associates of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while he worked on legislation directly related to the companies. in campaign In September 2015, while working on a bill to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a path “to leave conservatorship,” Mulvaney raked in thousands in campaign contributions from employees of Fannie and Freddie’s lobbying firm and major hedge firm. [Joe Light, “Hedge Fund Cash Flows To GOP Lawmakers Seeking To Loosen Government Grip on Fannie and Freddie,” Wall Street Journal, 05/12/16]
- Auto dealers’ special interest group showered Mulvaney with tens of thousands of dollars before and during their lobbying efforts against CFPB protections from auto lending discrimination. Mulvaney ultimately took actions to help them on this issue. During his congressional career, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) gave Mulvaney $30,000 in campaign contributions before and during their lobbying campaign against the CFPB’s guidance on discriminatory auto lending. In February 2018 that investment paid off when “Acting Director” Mulvaney stripped “the agency’s fair-lending office of enforcement powers.” The same office that had issued the guidance and led enforcement efforts. [Prime Policy Group LD-2 Disclosure Form, US Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database, 10/16/13; Prime Policy Group LD-2 Disclosure Form, US Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database, 12/04/14; Prime Policy Group LD-2 Disclosure Form, US Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database, 10/19/15; Prime Policy Group LD-2 Disclosure Form, US Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database, 10/21/16; and Prime Policy Group LD-2 Disclosure Form, US Senate Lobbying Disclosure Database, 01/31/18; Press Release, “NADA Commends House Passage of CHOICE Act; Urges Timely Senate Action,” National Automobile Dealers Association, 06/08/17; Renae Merle, “The CFPB now has two acting directors. And nobody knows which one should lead the federal agency,” The Washington Post, 11/24/17; Search for Contributions to John Michael (Mick) Mulvaney, FollowTheMoney.org, accessed on 01/29/18; Kate Berry, “CFPB’s Mulvaney strips his fair-lending office of enforcement powers,” American Banker, 02/01/18; David Dayen, “AFTER BOASTING ABOUT LOWERING BLACK UNEMPLOYMENT, DONALD TRUMP UNDERMINES THE FEDERAL UNIT DEFENDING AGAINST HOUSING DISCRIMINATION,” The Intercept, 02/01/18]
World Acceptance Corporation
- Mulvaney has received at least $4,500 from World Acceptance Corporation PAC. Previously, in 2010, Kenneth Bramlett Jr. of World Acceptance Corporation also donated $1,000 to Mulvaney for Congress but did not disclose the name of his employer nor his occupation. [Follow the Money search for World Acceptance Corp to Mick Mulvaney, accessed 01/23/17; Ken Bramlett Jr., Business Leaders, 4-Traders, accessed 04/11/18; Mulvaney for Congress Pre-Primary Report, Federal Elections Commission, filed 03/30/11; “Form 4,” Securities and Exchange Commission, 10/03/16; Press Release, “World Acceptance Corporation Names Jim Wanserski Interim President and CEO,” BusinessWire, 01/22/18]
- 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]
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