Mulvaney blasts leaks from within consumer bureau

Mulvaney blasts leaks from within consumer bureau
© Greg Nash

The acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) on Monday blasted unspecified leaks from within the agency, claiming they come from “a very small minority” of “ideologues and activists.”

Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyProtect the Military Lending Act On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Warren suggests Mulvaney broke law by speaking to GOP donors MORE, who is also the White House budget director, said some CFPB staffers have damaged the bureau's reputation with leaks to reporters he says are inaccurate. 

Mulvaney is the latest Trump administration official to bemoan unauthorized disclosures of information to the media.

"What's really disappointing to me is it undermines the credibility of the institution,” Mulvaney told a conference of community bankers in Washington. He said he wants the CFPB to be viewed with respect across ideological lines and cease leaks he says “makes us look like partisan hacks.”

A staunch conservative who has opposed the bureau’s existence, Mulvaney was appointed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rallies in Nevada amid Supreme Court flurry: 'We're gonna get Brett' Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in Nevada MORE to be acting CFPB director in November following the resignation of Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayTrump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Mulvaney plans to move some consumer bureau staff to new Atlanta office MORE, the agency’s first chief.

The CFPB was created by the Dodd-Frank Act to police predatory lending and has been the focal point of heated partisan battles in Congress since it opened in 2013. Mulvaney pledged to rein in the CFPB after years of complaints from the GOP and financial sector that the agency had breached its mandate with overreaching rules and lawsuits.

The CFPB had been responsible for more than $12 billion in fines to lenders and several sweeping rules, earning praise from Democrats, before Mulvaney took over. The bureau was the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenMore Massachusetts Voters Prefer Deval Patrick for President than Elizabeth Warren Trump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 MORE (D-Mass.) and has been fiercely defended by her party.

Mulvaney has since taken several steps to ease the CFPB’s aggressive policing of the financial sector. The acting director and his Republican allies insist he’s bringing the CFPB in line with the law, while Democrats claim he’s hijacked the agency to protect banks and special interests. 

"I don't want us to be Elizabeth Warren's baby, because as long as your associated with one person, be it me or her, you're never going to be taken as seriously as a bureaucracy, as an oversight regulator as you probably should,” Mulvaney said at the summit for the Independent Community Bankers of America, a trade group for small banks.

Despite the ideological divide between Mulvaney and CFPB veterans, the acting director said the overwhelming majority of bureau staff are hardworking, honorable public servants.

"These are folks who just want to do their job, and the quality of the work that they do is pretty good — in fact, excellent,” Mulvaney said, praising CFPB staffers for producing "some of the best legal work I've seen in my career."

Mulvaney then singled out “a small group of people” aligned with “the Elizabeth Warren view of the world that lending money for profit is evil.” He said those CFPB staffers have leaked misleading information with the goal of disparaging his efforts to steer the bureau in a new direction.

He didn’t specify what information the leaks revealed, but he appeared to reference media coverage of his decisions regarding CFPB probes, staffing and organizational structure.

"There's been a track record of them being wrong and we think intentionally so," Mulvaney told reporters after his remarks. “Many of the leaks that have come out of the past have been proven to be false, and I encourage everybody to consider that."

Mulvaney didn't say whether there would be an internal push to find the source of unauthorized disclosures. Trump and a slew of his aides, both past and present, have attempted to identify administration officials suspected of leaking damaging information