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Mulvaney: “The CFPB Never Existed”


Speaking at a recent industry event, Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [1] Director Mick Mulvaney told an assembled crowd of bankers that numerous changes were in store for the bureau. Among those changes: the bureau will no longer post consumer complaints online, and the organization itself may be undergoing an official name change.

A long-time critic of the CFPB even before President Trump appointed him to the role of Acting Director, Mulvaney’s appointment sparked a legal leadership battle [2] on the very first day. Outgoing Director Richard Cordray had named the CFPB’s Chief of Staff, Leandra English, as the Deputy Director, and the question of who was the rightful interim head of the department soon headed to the courts—with the courts backing [3] President Trump’s pick of Mulvaney.

Mulvaney said that “We are going to do what the law says, but not what the law doesn’t say.” That sentiment echoed Mulvaney’s tone throughout his tenure at the CFPB, where he has worked to scale back what he believes to be overreach by the bureau and has called for changes to its oversight and overall mission. During recent testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services, Mulvaney said [4], “The bureau is not designed to be accountable and my work there is aimed towards one end goal: to make the bureau more accountable.”

Mulvaney even requested zero funding [5] for the bureau for Q2 2018.

One bone of contention many in the industry have had with the CFPB has been its policy of posting consumer complaints online. Critics complain that there is no system in place for evaluating these complaints to determine whether they are valid and accurate. At the recent industry event, Mulvaney indicated that the CFPB would be discontinuing the policy of posting these complaints online.

“I don’t see anything in here that says I have to make all of this public,” Mulvaney said. “We are going to maintain the consumer database. It is mandated by law.” However, Mulvaney added that “I don’t see anything in here that I have to run a Yelp for financial services sponsored by the federal government.”

While it might not impact policy as much as some of the other changes Mulvaney has championed, he told the crowd he’s also working to alter the bureau in one fundamental way: its name. When the agency was originally created under the auspices of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, it was first named the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Mulvaney is working to transition it back to that original nomenclature.

“I’m trying to get in the habit of now saying the ‘BCFP,’” Mulvaney said. “The CFPB doesn’t exist,” he added. “The CFPB has never existed.”