In November, Richard Cordray resigned as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). He appointed his deputy director, Leandra English, to replace him as the agency’s head. However, President Donald Trump appointed his own pick to lead the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, who is Director of the Office of Budget and Management.
This led to an unusual squabble, with English refusing to yield to Mulvaney, and both telling staff they were acting director. English filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order to block Mulvaney from taking over the agency. However, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly denied her request, and Mulvaney was recognized as acting director.
In his ruling, Judge Kelly cited the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA), which he said “on its face” would seem to allow the president to name a temporary successor to Cordray, according to the National Law Journal. However, a lawyer representing English says the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB, contains language about the succession order that dictates the deputy director should fill the position should the director leave.
Even more strange, it is now being reported that staffers within the agency are refusing to acknowledge Mulvaney’s leadership. They are using encrypted devices to declare their support for English, who filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. The NLJ reports that in the amended complaint, English argues that:
The president’s attempt to appoint a still-serving White House staffer to displace the acting head of an independent agency is contrary to the overall statutory design and independence of the bureau, including its mandated independence from the Office of Management and Budget.
If the preliminary injunction is denied, the case could be brought before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Judge Kelly ordered the Justice Department to respond to the request by Dec. 15 and set a hearing on the matter for Dec. 22. At press time, we had not heard from the hearing.
Meanwhile, who is watching out for consumers? It’s not hard to believe the Trump administration has its own best interests at heart in appointing Mulvaney. In October, the administration continued on its path of deregulating the financial industry by rolling back a rule that banned mandatory arbitration clauses. Usually buried in the fine print, arbitration clauses strip consumers of their constitutional right to a trial by jury, barring them from banding together in class action lawsuits.
A perfect example of the harm arbitration clauses can cause consumers is the Wells Fargo fake account scam, in which the bank defrauded millions of its customers when it opened checking, savings, and credit card accounts in their name and without their authorization, then charged them fees for those bogus accounts.
Not only did Wells Fargo use arbitration clauses to bar its customers from justice, it used the clauses to hide its activities from the public eye and perpetuate a number of other alleged schemes that defrauded homeowners, car buyers, veterans and taxpayers. It is also flagrantly deceitful of the financial industry.
Sources: National Law Journal, TownHall.com, and The Hill