Mick Mulvaney guts 3 CFPB advisory boards

Disbanded the Consumer Advisory Board, two other boards

Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mick Mulvaney gutted three CFPB Advisory Boards today. The Consumer Advisory BoardCommunity Bank Advisory Council, and the Credit Union Advisory Council were all disbanded today.

“Today, in a move that signals the continuing attempts by acting director Mulvaney to destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from within, leadership at the Bureau informed me, along with other Consumer Advisory Board members and members of two other CFPB Advisory Boards, that we were fired,” California Reinvestment Coalition Executive Director Paulina Gonzalez said in a statement regarding the firings.

“The actions by Mulvaney today speak to the direction of the Bureau, which under his leadership have been entirely focused on industry interests, such as dismantling consumer protections, weakening fair lending enforcement, dismantling auto discriminatory lending guidance, and not implementing hard-won payday lending rules. By firing the CAB, Mulvaney is taking away an important voice of working-class Californians who have never fully recovered from the Wall Street financial crisis, and who are still struggling to stay in their homes and access safe, affordable credit and financial products,” she added.

The Consumer Advisory Board is an entity the CFPB was required to meet with twice per year by law. According, to an article from CNBC, Mulvaney has been repeatedly cancelling these meetings, causing rumors to swirl that the CAB was indeed on its way to the chopping block.

The CFPB's Anthony Welcher cited these reasons for the terminations in a phone call, according to a statement by former members of the CAB:

  • The bureau cited savings of a few hundred thousand dollars; former members of the CAB estimate this to represent less than .08% of the agency’s overall budget. 
  • The bureau cited responses to a Request for Information on External Engagement as a justification for the change. When pressed, Welcher said the decision was made before the RFI had closed, and he could point to no RFI response calling for dissolving the advisory boards. A review of the RFI responses reveals there was no response calling for a restructuring or dissolution of the current advisory boards, according to former members of the CAB.
  • The bureau cited a desire for a smaller, more diverse, and more inclusive group of people involved.
  • One of the additional explanations for the firing of the advisory board members was the implementation of new plan to hold town hall meetings and intimate roundtable discussions, which former members say were two long-standing practices of the CFPB.

“While deeply disappointed by this move, the Californian Reinvestment Coalition and our members will continue to work to ensure that Wall Street, big banks, and the regulatory agencies that oversee them, are operating in the best interest of all Californians. We will not falter in our work to hold Wall Street accountable, nor will stop working to protect the true mission of the CFPB which now seems to be working for the big banks instead of American families,” Gonzalez said.

This is just the latest in a serious of changes Mulvaney has made since joining the bureau. Recently, he reiterated his mission to rescind regulation by enforcement and restructure the CFPB. He also recently announced in an email to staff that he plans to dramatically reorganize the bureau’s operational structure.

Other changes include considering ending public access to bank complaints, changing its fair lending enforcement and even changing the bureau’s name.

 This is the CFPB Chief Communications Officer and Spokesperson John Czwartacki's response to the situation:

The bureau has not fired anyone. The Bureau will continue to meet its statutory obligation to convene the Consumer Advisory Board meetings as well as enhanced forms of public outreach and engagement as referenced in the announcement this morning. This expansion will include but is not limited to the use of town halls and roundtables throughout the United States; The first of these public engagements will occur in Topeka, Kansas, town hall this Friday. The outspoken members of the Consumer Advisory Board seem more concerned about protecting their taxpayer funded junkets to Washington, D.C. and being wined and dined by the bureau than protecting consumers.

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