Warren blasts Mulvaney for ‘unjustified’ actions at consumer bureau
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) accused the acting director of the consumer bureau of using concerns about cybersecurity to sabotage the agency’s oversight of the financial sector.
Warren, in a letter released Monday, said acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Mick Mulvaney had been “hobbling the agency” by suspending data collection.
“I fear that the freeze in data collection has in practice fundamentally changed how the CFPB interacts with its regulated entities,” wrote Warren to Mulvaney, also the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and deputy director Leandra English on Jan. 4.
President Trump appointed Mulvaney as the CFPB’s temporary head in November after former Director Richard Cordray resigned to run for Ohio governor. Mulvaney, a fierce critic of the CFPB, ordered employees to stop collecting consumer data in December.
In announcing his decision, Mulvaney cited reports from the CFPB inspector general highlighting cybersecurity concerns at the bureau. Conservatives have long opposed the CFPB’s collection of personally identifiable information from banks and financial services companies, which they’ve called intrusive and unsafe.
CFPB bank examiners were told not to request information from the firms they monitor, and Warren wrote that “lawyers at the CFPB have been banned from reviewing electronic evidence they obtain in discovery,” citing multiple sources.
Warren said in her letter that Mulvaney’s “actions are unjustified and that he inappropriately used the reports as a pretext to halt and weaken critical agency functions.”
“CFPB cannot fulfill its core functions without collecting personally identifiable information,” wrote Warren, who laid the framework for the bureau as a special adviser to former President Obama.
“CFPB bank examiners and enforcement lawyers regularly use account level data provided by regulated institutions to detect improper and unlawful activity.”
Warren has been one of Mulvaney’s fiercest critics since his appointment, and supported English’s lawsuit against Mulvaney for the acting director role. In the letter, she refers to English as the acting director and addresses Mulvaney as the OMB director, his permanent job.
Mulvaney said in November that he is “going to try and limit as much as we can what the CFPB does to sort of interfere with capitalism and with the financial services market.”
The CFPB announced in December that it would review a rule on prepaid cards and debit accounts issued in 2016 and ease reporting requirements from its mortgage disclosure rule. The bureau is also reconsidering several lawsuits and enforcement actions initiated by Cordray.
Mulvaney has hired political aides to help reshape the agency that Democrats designed to be independent of White House and congressional influence. The acting director brought on several former aides to House Financial Services Committee Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the architect of House efforts to reign in the CFPB.