Mulvaney Met with Lender During Golf Trip to Bahamas Despite Telling Congress His Only Meetings with the Industry Were “In the Ordinary Course of Business”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite telling Congress last month that he had only met with payday lenders, “in the ordinary course of business,” the New York Times reports today that Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) “Acting Director” Mick Mulvaney met with a payday lending industry executive and discussed the bureau’s case against his company during a golf trip to the Bahamas in February.
“Mick Mulvaney willfully misled Congress when he told them his only interactions with payday lenders had been during official business of the CFPB. The onus is now on Congress to show the American people what it does when high-ranking government officials lie during official congressional testimony. Will they let him get away with it or will they finally hold him accountable?,” said Karl Frisch, executive director of Allied Progress.
He continued, “Mulvaney is again demonstrating that he simply cannot be trusted to deal honestly with the American people. We deserve so much better than he is capable of delivering. It is time for him to step aside and be replaced with a full time director who will refocus to bureau to its original mission of consumer protection and Wall Street accountability.”
It is the latest example of Mulvaney being untruthful about his dealing with the payday lending industry. Earlier this year, Mulvaney’s spokesperson admitted the CFPB acting director “was indeed involved in the decision” to drop the bureau’s case against a controversial payday lender charging 950% interest rates despite previous claims that the decision was made exclusively by “professional career staff.” In fact, CFPB staffers told NPR’s reporter that “Mulvaney decided to drop the lawsuit even though the entire career enforcement staff wanted to press ahead.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
According to the New York Times report:
Democrats have questioned Mr. Mulvaney’s relationships with the industry he is supposed to be policing. At a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, asked Mr. Mulvaney if he had ever “rubbed elbows with payday C.E.O.s or their lobbyists and lawyers in exotic locations.”
Mr. Mulvaney, who took about $63,000 from the payday industry while in Congress, said “the only contact” he had “was in the ordinary course of business,” a response that turned out to be untrue.
In February, Mr. Cohn had invited Mr. Mulvaney to a tournament at an exclusive club in the Bahamas. Eating lunch, they were approached by J. Paul Reddam, the founder of CashCall, who told Mr. Mulvaney he wanted to discuss the bureau’s case against the California-based lender over high-cost loans. Mr. Mulvaney responded that he thought all of the payday cases had already been dismissed, but would refer the request to a deputy, according to two people with knowledge of the encounter.
The intervention had no apparent effect. Career lawyers at the bureau recently appealed a judge’s order that reduced CashCall’s fine to $10 million from the proposed $287 million.
At the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mr. Mulvaney has halted all new investigations, frozen hiring, stopped the agency’s data collection and proposed cutting off public access to a database of consumer complaints.
Mr. Mulvaney’s position was that Mr. Reddam was the head of a mortgage company, not a payday lender.
“I think this administration has a lot of trouble with the truth,” Mr. Brown said.
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