Politics & Money

Warren calls for investigation into CFPB-to-BCFP name change

Suggests Mulvaney's rebrand violates federal law

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is calling for an internal investigation into the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s mission to change its name.

In a letter sent Monday to the Inspector General of the CFPB and published by The Hill, Warren wrote that her office is concerned that the name change “imposes unnecessary and significant costs on taxpayers and the business community, deprives the CFPB of funds it can use to protect consumers, and violates legal requirements.”

Since March, the agency began taking steps to officiate a rebrand under Acting Director Mick Mulvaney.

Mulvaney said the name change was an effort to realign the bureau with the statute that brought it into being, calling the move “a good, small way – but a very visible way – to send a message.”

Looks like that message isn’t sitting well with Warren, who helped the Obama administration create the CFPB.

In her letter to the IG, Warren cited its own investigation revealing that the name change could cost companies subject to CFPB oversight as much as $300 million in order to update their databases, change regulatory filings and revise disclosure forms to accommodate the bureau’s new name. 

She also noted that the IG report estimated that the rebrand would cost the agency between $9 million and $19 million in order to finance updates to internal materials and to its website.

Warren said this expense to the agency would eat into its already limited budget, meaning that it would have to cut the funds used for its oversight actions by nearly half.

“These cuts would severely limit the number of investigations and examinations the CFPB can undertake, the number of complaints it can handle, and the number and scope of cases the CFPB can bring on behalf of consumers,” Warren wrote.

In the letter, Warren alleged that the bureau’s actions may have been in violation of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, which requires the CFPB to follow specific procedures to analyze the effect of its rulemaking on small businesses if it could have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of them.

“The CFPB’s estimate that this rule would impose $300 million meets this threshold,” Warren noted.

She also alleged that the agency did not take appropriate steps to impose a name change, stating that it would need to amend certain disclosures for laws under its purview, which would require a formal rulemaking process.

Finally, Warren calls out the agency for the “poorly planned” and “incomplete” roll-out, saying the effect is confusing to consumers.

As of now, the bureau’s website still reads “We’re the CFPB,” even though the signage has been changed on the building and a new seal has been selected.

In internal documents obtained by HousingWire, CFPB staff discussed the potential repercussions of the uneven rollout.

In an email to select staff, Office of Management and Budget Chief of Staff Emma Doyle urged for a more coordinated approach to the rebrand.

“There are myriad implications to a piecemeal name change, all of which to me would signal to the press that we're not making thoughtful and coordinated decisions,” Doyle wrote. “Without a coordinated strategy that lets the public and the press know what we are changing (or not changing) and when (and knowing any associated cost of doing so), we risk looking like we haven't thought this through.”

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