Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Leadership Struggle

By Colleen Dabrowski

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is in the middle of a leadership battle that has politicians getting heated on both sides. The CFPB is an independent bureau funded by the Federal Reserve whose central mission, according to their website, is to “make consumer financial markets work for consumers, responsible providers, and the economy as a whole […] protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices and take action against companies that break the law […] arm people with the information, steps, and tools that they need to make smart financial decisions.” In other words, it is an agency of the United States government that is in charge of the well-being and protections of consumers in the financial sector. The CFPB was started in 2011 in response to the financial crisis and recession of 2008 under the leadership of Director Richard Cordray. The leadership struggle began with the resignation of Director Cordray, which was announced on November 15.

On the day of his resignation, November 24, Cordray named Chief of Staff Leandra English as temporary replacement in his resignation letter. At the same time, President Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and historically one of the CFPB’s most passionate opponents. Under the leadership of former Director Cordray, the CFPB was frequently under fire from Republicans for being too aggressive. Mulvaney has been one of it’s greatest critics, calling it “a joke…in a sick, sad kind of way,” according to the Washington Post. The two are now in a battle of sorts, both claiming to be the acting director.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made a statement, saying “It is unfortunate that Mr. Cordray decided to put his political ambition above the interests of consumers with this stunt […] Director Mulvaney will bring a more serious and professional approach to running the CFPB.” Mary E. McLeod, the CFPB’s general counsel, sent out a letter that read “I advise all Bureau personnel to act consistently with the understanding that Director Mulvaney is the Acting Director of the CFPB” to the CFPB’s leadership, according to the Washington Post, on November 25.

On November 26, English filed a suit claiming that she is the rightful director. The next day, Mulvaney went into the office with donuts for the employees and instructions to disregard anything that English says. In the past, when asked about his views on the CFPB, Mulvaney has said “I don’t like the fact that CFPB exists” and that “it is one of the most offensive concepts in a representative government”. On November 27, Mulvaney said “My opinion of the structure of the CFPB has not changed. I still think it’s an awful example of a bureaucracy that has gone wrong.” On November 28, a judge denied English’s case.

There is no definitive answer as to who is officially holding the position of acting director. The position is a temporary one, however, until the President’s pick can be approved.

Image courtesy of NBC Los Angeles

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