After First Two Weeks, It Is Clear Mulvaney is Putting Wall St. First
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With legal challenges mounting to Mick Mulvaney’s attempted “illegal,” “lawless” “coup” at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the part-time “acting director” installed by President Trump almost exactly two weeks ago may only be working part-time at the Bureau, but he is working overtime to screw over consumers and make Wall Street special interests happy.
“Since the moment he arrived, Mick Mulvaney has attempted to undermine the work the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has done to protect Americans from bad actors and financial predators,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.
He continued, “Mulvaney has installed political cronies, dropped investigations, frozen key data collection, and jeopardized enforcement actions meant to help wronged consumers all at the behest of special interests and big banks. It’s safe to say Mulvaney has failed his first two weeks on the job.”
Mulvaney’s Anti-Consumer Crusade at the CFPB:
- Mulvaney is Going to Pair Independent Government Regulators at the CFPB with Political Staff – A Move Experts Say Threatens the Independence of ALL Financial Regulators: Mulvaney said “he plans to start hiring political staffers, and to pair them with the career officials who currently head various CFPB divisions.” But “Congress designed the CFPB to be an independent agency in the mold of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Board. Those agencies typically have far fewer political appointees than other parts of the executive branch.” As one expert put it, “Mulvaney’s plans ‘should send shivers down the spine’ of anyone who supports independent financial regulation.” [Kevin Wack, “Mulvaney’s plan to embed political staffers in CFPB sparks backlash,” American Banker, 12/5/17.]
- Mulvaney Could Shelve a CFPB Investigation into a Giant Spanish Bank (Santander) for Overcharging Auto Loan Customers – a Longtime Mulvaney Staffer Lobbies for the Bank: The CFPB has been investigating Santander “for overcharging auto loan customers. Given the tenor of recent conversations inside the bureau, agency lawyers suspect the investigation could be shelved under Mr. Mulvaney, according to four people with knowledge of the case who requested anonymity to discuss an investigation.” In 2017, longtime Mulvaney staffer Natalee Binkholder “left Mulvaney’s office to work as a top lobbyist for Santander” where she has actively worked against CFPB rules. [Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Stacy Cowley, “Consumer Bureau’s New Leader Steers a Sudden Reversal,” New York Times, 12/5/17; David Sirota, “Trump Conflict Of Interest: CFPB Pick Mulvaney Linked To Lobbyist For Bank Facing Possible CFPB Sanctions,” International Business Times, 11/26/17.]
- Mulvaney is Going Easy on an Ohio-Company Which Misled More Than 100,000 Mortgage Customers and Faced an $8 Million Penalty: A federal judge agreed with the CFPB that Ohio-based Nationwide Biweekly Administration “misled more than 100,000 mortgage customers” and ordered the company to pay “$8 million in penalties.” Seeking to collect the penalty so that harmed consumers could be compensated, the CFPB sought to force the company to post a bond while proceedings in the case concluded. “Barely 48 hours later,” under Mulvaney, the CFPB reversed course. [Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Stacy Cowley, “Consumer Bureau’s New Leader Steers a Sudden Reversal,” The New York Times, 12/5/17.]
- Mulvaney is Freezing CFPB Data Collection Which is Used to Protect Consumers from Discrimination and Other Industry Misconduct:Mulvaney froze the CFPB’s collection of consumer data, ostensibly “due to cybersecurity concerns.” The Government Accountability Office (GAO) had previously concluded that “the CFPB has taken steps to ‘protect and secure’ the data it collects,” including by “‘anonymizing’ the material involving identifiable individuals.” Data collection helps the CFPB “identify discrimination and other industry misconduct, and can serve as a basis for writing rules.” A CFPB official said that data is “‘essential for effective financial regulation'” and “‘allows regulators to see how markets are functioning and monitor the impact of rules.'” [Yuka Hayashi, “New CFPB Chief Curbs Data Collection, Citing Cybersecurity Worries,” The Wall Street Journal, 12/04/17; Benjamin Goad, “GAO: Nothing unusual in CFPB data collection,” The Hill, 09/22/14; Trey Garrison, “CFPB: Data collection practices within the norm for regulators,” HousingWire, 09/23/14]
- Mulvaney Froze Payments to Victims of Financial Crime (But Reversed Himself Following Intense Public Outcry): When Mulvaney took charge of the CFPB, he said “he would suspend all payments from the [civil penalties] fund for at least 30 days, until he had a chance to find out ‘what that fund is all about.'” The move “drew a rebuke from two Senate Democrats, who sent a letter calling the move ‘inexplicable.'” The public outcry was so intense that Mulvaney reversed his freeze on “payments to victims of financial crime” after only eight days. [Stacy Cowley, “Consumer Bureau Lifts Freeze on Payments to Crime Victims,” The New York Times, 12/04/17]
- Mulvaney is Dropping an Investigation into a Company Accused of Preying on Detained Immigrants: Under Mulvaney, the CFPB suspended “its investigation and request for a civil investigation demand (CID) of Nexus Services,” “a Virginia-based firm that handles immigration bonds.” The company was under investigation for preying on detained immigrants. [“CFPB reverses course, suspends CID investigation,” RESPA News,12/04/17; Michael E. Miller, “Company accused of preying on detained immigrants is under investigation,” Washington Post, 10/20/17.]
- Mulvaney may be Freezing Enforcement Actions Against Predatory Financial Institutions: While Mulvaney has said that the bureau will continue to meet its legal and statutory deadlines,” he has said he is “reviewing the various lawsuits CFPB is party to” and has already “requested delays in two cases where immediate action was required.” [Andrew Restuccia, “Mulvaney imposes temporary hiring, regulations freeze on CFPB,” PoliticoPro, 11/27/17; Victoria Guida, “Mulvaney: No plans to fire CFPB rival Leandra English,” PoliticoPro, 12/4/17; Sylvan Lane, “Mulvaney says he won’t fire consumer bureau deputy director who sued him,” The Hill, 12/04/17.]
- Mulvaney is Freezing the Hiring of Additional Personnel Who Would Help Hold Financial Bad Actors Accountable: On November 27, his first day at the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney “implemented a temporary freeze on hiring and new regulations.” He said that the freezes “will last for 30 days.” [Andrew Restuccia, “Mulvaney imposes temporary hiring, regulations freeze on CFPB,” PoliticoPro, 11/27/17.]
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