Senator Warren throws her hat into the ring for ongoing CFPB fight

Inside Subprime: January 9, 2018

By Andrew Tavin

On January 4, Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Mick Mulvaney expressing her concerns that he is preventing the agency from carrying out its mission of investigating and penalizing financial institutions that harm consumers.

Since the resignation of former CFPB director Richard Cordray, the future of the organization has become murky at best. While Cordray named his chief of staff Leandra English to be his successor, President Trump chose to appoint Mick Mulvaney to the role. After competing emails, legal battles, and warring of baked goods, Mulvaney has settled in as the acting director, leading many to fear the agency may be shirking in its responsibilities.

Now Senator Warren, who helped create CFPB back in 2011, is stepping in to get answers about why Mulvaney has stopped the organization from gathering electronic data related to financial institutions under investigation. Although she acknowledges that Mulvaney’s stated goal of data security is important, her letter makes clear she doubts that’s his primary motivation:

“After reviewing the reports, their recommendations, and CFPB’s response, I believe Director Mulvaney’s actions are unjustified and that he inappropriately used the reports as a pretext to halt and weaken critical agency functions,” she writes. 

Warren is requesting a briefing to understand just what is happening at the CFPB, though it seems pretty clear that Mulvaney’s goal is weakening the oversight capabilities of the organization, which he has stated in the past he opposes the very existence of.

Interestingly enough, Warren herself came up with the idea of the CPFB while she was a Harvard professor, long before the birth of her political career. Given how much time and energy she’s invested in the construction of the agency, it seems unlikely that she would allow it to wither and die without a fight.  

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