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Consumer bureau asks for complaints about subpoena process

Consumer bureau asks for complaints about subpoena process
© Greg Nash

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Wednesday published a request for comment on the subpoena process it uses to investigate companies that have appeared to violate federal law.

The CFPB is asking for suggestions for and complaints about its civil investigative demands (CID) system, through which the bureau has scored documents, testimony and other information relevant to bureau enforcement probes.

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Acting CFPB Director Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Dow, S&P fall to close rough week for Wall Street | Brady appears to rule out lame-duck tax cut action | New payday loan rule coming in January On The Money: Mnuchin pulls out of Saudi summit | Consumer bureau to probe controversial blog posts on race | Harris proposes new middle-class tax credit Consumer bureau to probe top Trump official's past racial comments MORE announced last week that the bureau would begin soliciting comments on the processes and procedures it uses to regulate and oversee the economy. Wednesday’s request is the formal start of the process.

The CFPB said Wednesday that the request is intended to “improve outcomes for both consumers and covered entities,” part of Mulvaney’s stated goal to use the bureau to help protect the businesses it oversees.

The bureau’s request asks for ways the CID system “may be updated, streamlined, or revised to better achieve the Bureau’s statutory and regulatory objectives, while minimizing burdens, consistent with applicable law, and how to align the Bureau’s CID processes with those of other agencies with similar authorities.”

Financial services companies have long complained about the CFPB’s sweeping power to investigate and penalize firms that appear to have violated consumer protection laws.

Mulvaney has come under fierce criticism from the bureau’s former liberal allies for easing the CFPB’s hold on financial services companies. He declared “a new mission” for the bureau in a Tuesday memo to agency staff, insisting "the days of aggressively 'pushing the envelope' of the law in the name of 'mission' are over.”

Government watchdog groups and progressive non-profits blasted Mulvaney for ending a CFPB lawsuit against a payday lender based in his home state of South Carolina that contributed to a previous congressional campaign.

Former CFPB Director Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayWarren? Biden? Sanders? Dems have different answers on 2020 after 2018 The Hill's Morning Report — Split decision: Dems take House, GOP retains Senate majority Midterms: The winners and losers MORE on Thursday called Mulvaney a “squatter” in “retreat” from the bureau’s intended purpose.

“The fish rots from the head down,” Cordray tweeted Thursday. “Did we push hard to see that people are treated fairly by big banks, debt collectors, and payday lenders? You bet we did.”


Banks, credit card companies, lenders and loan servicers say the bureau tramples on due process and hinders firms that may have done nothing wrong.

Democrats have fiercely defended the CFPB’s expansive powers, pressing the need for an independent agency to crackdown on abusive financial practices.