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 MulvaneyPuerto Rico governor threatens legal action over national emergency declaration: 'See you in court' Trump to sign border deal, declare national emergency Trump touts deal as providing B for border security 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 TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is 'clear abuse of presidential power' O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE to be acting CFPB director in November following the resignation of Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayOn The Money: Consumer bureau proposes scrapping borrower safeguards from payday loan rule | Negotiators running out of time to avert shutdown | Trump nominates World Bank critic as its next chief Consumer bureau proposes scrapping borrower safeguards from payday loan rule Supreme Court should do what Congress won’t: Rein in the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection 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 WarrenWarren's 'ultra wealth' tax is misleading Hillicon Valley: New York says goodbye to Amazon's HQ2 | AOC reacts: 'Anything is possible' | FTC pushes for record Facebook fine | Cyber threats to utilities on the rise O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation 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