Mick Mulvaney is interim director of the Office of Consumer Financial Protection. (AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin, Archive)
Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, fired the advisory board of 25 members of the agency on Wednesday and said it would launch a new panel in the fall. .
The Consumer The Advisory Board, known as the CAB, had played an influential role in advising the CFPB leadership on the new regulations and policies. But some panel members, including prominent consumer advocates, academics and industry executives, began to complain that Mulvaney ignored them and made reckless changes in the watchdog agency.
On Monday, 11 CAB members gave a press conference and criticized Mulvaney for, among other things, canceling legally required meetings with the group.
On Wednesday, group members were notified that they were being replaced, and that they could not re-apply for seats on the new board.
In a statement, the spokesman of the agency, John Czwartacki, gave a final blow to the group. "The members of the Consumer Advisory Council seem more concerned about protecting their travels funded by taxpayers to Washington, DC, and about being entertained and eaten by the Office than protecting consumers," he said.
The CFPB will launch a new meeting in the fall with fewer members, the office said in an email to the group. The renewal of the plaque is part of CFPB's new approach to reaching stakeholders in order to "increase high-quality comments," the letter said. The CFPB will have more councils and round tables, said the letter.
But the dismissal of members is likely to exacerbate concerns among Democrats that Mulvaney is weakening the consumer watchdog. As a congressman, he repeatedly criticized the agency, calling it a "joke" and saying that it was necessary to restrain it. Since President Trump appointed him interim director in November, Mulvaney has launched a comprehensive review of the bureau's operations. Last week, Mulvaney sided with the payday lenders who sued the CFPB to block the implementation of new industry regulations. The CFPB filed a joint motion with payday lenders asking the judge to delay the case until the board completes a review of the rules, which could take years.
"To dismiss the current members of the advisory board is a great signal of alarm in this ongoing erosion of the administration of the consumer's critical financial protections that help average families," said Chi Chi Wu, a lawyer for the National Center for Consumer Law that has been a member of the board since 2016.
The Consumer Advisory Council under the 2010 Dodd Frank is required, the financial law. Members also included the head of retail banking at Citi, the founder of NerdWallet and a director at Texas Appleseed, a public interest law center. The members of two other boards, the Advisory Council of the Community Bank, the Advisory Council of Credit Cooperatives, were also dismissed.
In a 30-minute call on Wednesday morning to announce the move, a CFPB official discussed with some council members surprised by the decision. "We decided that we will start the advisory groups with new membership, to incorporate these new perspectives and a new dialogue," said Anthony Welcher, badociate director of foreign policy at CFPB, according to a recording of the call obtained by The Washington Post.
During the call, Welcher said renewing the CAB would save the agency "several hundred dollars a year" by not having regular meetings in Washington. But several board members objected, saying they would be willing to pay on their own to attend meetings.
"The new office management has never met with any of us to determine, and even know, if this is so, valuable advice that the office is receiving," said Josh Zinner, executive director of the Interfaith Center for Accountability. Corporate
The board met with Mulvaney's predecessor, Richard Cordray, three times a year, according to several members. But Mulvaney repeatedly canceled the meetings, citing his busy schedule. In addition to directing the CFPB, Mulvaney is the director of the Office of Management and Budget of the White House.
His dismissal "is another move that indicates that Acting Director Mick Mulvaney is only interested in getting views from his inner circle and has no interest in hearing the perspectives of those who work with US families in distress," he said. Ann Baddour, president of the CAB and director of the Fair Financial Services Project at Texas Appleseed.
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