Mick Mulvaney fires members of CFPB advisory board

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By Renae Merle, The Washington Post

Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, fired the agency’s 25-member advisory board on Wednesday and said he would launch a new panel in the fall.

The  Consumer Advisory Board, known as CAB, has traditionally played an influential role in advising CFPB’s leadership on new regulations and policies. But some panel members, which include prominent consumer advocates, academics and industry executives, have begun to complain that Mulvaney was ignoring them and making unwise changes at the watchdog agency.

On Monday, 11 CAB members held a news conference, where they criticized Mulvaney for, among other things, canceling legally required meetings with the group.

On Wednesday, the group members were notified that they were being replaced — and that they could not reapply for spots on the new board.

The CFPB will launch a new board in the fall with fewer members, the bureau said in an email to the group. “Your participation to date reflects a true commitment to public service and ensures that the Bureau’s policy making has had the benefit of your perspectives and experiences on issues important to consumers across the country,” the email said.

Launching a new, smaller CAB is part of a new approach to reaching out to stakeholders to “increase high quality feedback,” the letter said. The CFPB will hold more town halls and round-table discussions, the letter said.

But the dismissal of the current group’s members is likely exacerbate concerns among Democrats that Mulvaney is weakening the consumer watchdog agency. He has launched a top-to-bottom review of its operations, stripped enforcement powers from a CFPB unit responsible for pursuing discrimination cases and proposed that lawmakers curb the agency’s powers.

Last week, Mulvaney sided with payday lenders who sued the CFPB to block implementation of new industry regulations. The CFPB filed a joint motion with the payday lenders asking the judge to delay the case until the bureau completes a review of the rules, which could take years.

“Firing current members of the advisory board is a huge red flag in this administration’s ongoing erosion of critical consumer financial protections that help average families,” said Chi Chi Wu, an attorney for the National Consumer Law Center who has been a board member since 2016. “Apparently Acting Director Mulvaney is willing to listen to industry lobbyists who make campaign contributions, but not the statutorily appointed Consumer Advisory Board members.”

The Consumer Advisory Board is required under the 2010 financial reform law, known as the Dodd Frank Act. Current members include Wu, as well as the head of retail banking at Citi, the founder of NerdWallet, and a director at Texas Appleseed, a public interest law center.

The board met with Mulvaney’s predecessor, Richard Cordray, three times a year, according to several members. But Mulvaney repeatedly canceled meetings, citing his busy schedule. In addition to leading the CFPB, Mulvaney is the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

In a call with some CAB members Wednesday morning, a CFPB official told the group that they could not reapply to sit on the board. Their dismissal “is another move indicating Acting Director Mick Mulvaney is only interested in obtaining views from his inner circle, and has no interest in hearing the perspectives of those who work with struggling American families,” said Ann Baddour, chair of the CAB and director of the Fair Financial Services Project at Texas Appleseed.


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Mick Mulvaney fires members of CFPB advisory board
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