Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is demanding answers from the Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney.
Mulvaney, who also serves as the Director of the Office of Budget and Management, has been under fire in recent days after it was reported he gave the swampiest speech imaginable before a group of banking executives Tuesday.
“What you do here matters,” he said, speaking at the American Bankers Association conference in Washington, D.C. “We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you were a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you were a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you. If you came from back home and sat in my lobby, I talked to you without exception regardless of the financial contributions.”
Yes, that is a former congressman and current member of the president’s Cabinet admitting that lobbyists who failed to donate to his campaign would have no chance of meeting with him.
A new report from The Daily Beast also suggests that Mulvaney has extended that pay-to-play scheme to his post at the CFPB, a government agency created to protect consumers from predatory financial institutions.
According to the outlet, Mulvaney has met with at least eight registered lobbyists and six other executives who donated to his congressional campaigns while working for the Trump administration. These meetings began almost immediately after Mulvaney assumed his post at OMB.
In a letter on Friday, addressed to the CFPB’s top ethics official, Warren, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection, voiced her concerns about those reports, calling them “troubling.”
“This frank admission that Mr. Mulvaney traded meetings for campaign cash is even more troubling because many of the lobbyists who contributed to his campaigns represent interests that are affected by the CFPB’s work,” Warren wrote. “For example, Mr. Mulvaney received more than $92,000 from the American Bankers Association, the Credit Union Nation Association, the National Auto Dealers Association, and the National Association of Realtors during his time in Congress. […] The CFPB has taken actions that directly benefit those donors.”
Warren gave the CFPB until May 14 to answer a number of questions: Was Mulvaney given any advice about working on matters related to his donors? Has he recused himself from any work related to a company or industry? Are ethics officials planning to take additional action to prevent Mulvaney from engaging with his donors?
The Senator has also requested a list of CFPB employees who have recused themselves from engaging with certain companies due to the fact that some of the political appointees currently employed by the CFPB have worked at entities potentially affected by its actions.
As of March 2018, Mulvaney has ignored or provided “evasive, misleading, or incomplete answers” to nine letters sent by Warren that questioned his actions and leadership at the CFPB.
Mulvaney’s appointment to the CFPB has long been criticized, considering he has stated in the past that he believes the agency to be a “sad, sick joke.” During his first few weeks in office, Mulvaney took steps to ease lending rules on banks and other lenders and froze all new investigations. As Vox noted, up until Wells Fargo was hit with a billion dollar fine last week, Mulvaney hadn’t taken a single enforcement action against any financial institution.
For its part, the CFPB has defended the lack of action, stating that it was busy “assessing” all existing investigations before moving forward.
“Assessing the legal risks of all pending enforcement actions is a critical part of the transition process and standard procedure for new leadership at enforcement agencies such as the Bureau,” CFPB spokespersons wrote in a statement to the Associated Press on April 10. “That review continues alongside the agency’s ongoing law enforcement work.”