Mick Mulvaney, Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), has dissolved the agency’s Consumer Advisory Board, a panel of consumer advocates, financial industry professionals, community leaders, and other representatives formed after the housing crisis to protect consumers from corporate fraud and abuse.
The measure sends another clear signal that Mulvaney is working to undermine the powers of the agency he was appointed to lead, consumer advocates say, with rollbacks that chip away at the regulatory oversight of banks and other financial institutions.
Mulvaney fired the board June 6, just days after its 25-member panel criticized his leadership of the agency. He also disbanded the 17-member Credit Union Advisory Board, claiming the cuts were based on costs, budget needs, and a lack of diversity within the agency, among other factors.
“As the Bureau unilaterally shifts its mission from one prioritizing consumer protection and upholding fair market practices to one focused on industry regulatory relief, we see families, once again, being left behind,” Ann Baddour, the consumer panel’s chair and director of the Fair Financial Services Project at Texas Appleseed, said in the statement posted by the National Consumer Law Center.
The CFPB was formed by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 and requires the consumer panels to meet with CFPB leadership twice per year. These meetings, however, were repeatedly canceled since Mulvaney took over the agency in November.
Mulvaney’s CFPB has also taken no enforcement actions and it has walked away from more cases of potential violations, fraud, and other wrongdoing than it has taken on. As Reuters reports, Mulvaney’s CFPB has dropped its own cases against shady payday loan operations and online lenders that operate on tribal land so that they can charge triple-digit interest rates.
“He thinks the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a sick joke,” Ruhi Maker, a member of the board and senior attorney at Empire Justice Center in Rochester, told Buffalo, New York’s WBFO. ”It’s like appointing someone to run the health care system who believes we shouldn’t have health care. We have an Acting Director who doesn’t believe in consumer protections.”