CFPB effectively dissolves Consumer Advisory Board

Mick Mulvaney took yet another swipe at his consumer watchdog bureau - all but terminating an entire board of advocat...

Posted: Jun 9, 2018 9:31 AM
Updated: Jun 9, 2018 9:31 AM

Mick Mulvaney took yet another swipe at his consumer watchdog bureau - all but terminating an entire board of advocates who advise the agency about fair lending and underserved communities.

The 25 members of the Consumer Advisory Board, established by law as part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, were told on a conference call Wednesday that the board would not meet again until new members are appointed.

Current members were told that they would not be allowed to reapply, according to a recording of the call obtained by CNNMoney. That notice was softened on a second call, when CFPB officials suggested the members could try again in a few years.

The director of the bureau is required by law to meet twice a year with the panel, which includes experts on predatory lending, fair housing, legal aid and community development. The agency had canceled two meetings previously scheduled for February and June.

Related: Changes at CFPB's student loan division worry advocates

"This is what happens when you put someone in charge of an agency they think shouldn't exist," Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said in a statement. "Mick Mulvaney has no intention of putting consumers above financial firms that cheat them."

The CFPB insisted nobody had been fired.

Some board members disagreed, and saw it as yet another step in the Trump administration's weakening of the consumer bureau since Mulvaney was named acting director in November.

"Firing current members of the advisory board is a huge red flag in this administration's ongoing erosion of critical consumer financial protections that help average families," said Chi Chi Wu, a lawyer at the National Consumer Law Center and member of the board.

On the first conference call, Anthony Welcher, policy associate director at the bureau, informed board members that the bureau was changing its plans.

"We're going to be streamlining some of how the board operates, looking to save money so we can invest that in some of our external engagement and meet the director's mandate of cutting back on discretionary spending," he said.

Related: Mulvaney wants to shut public out of CFPB's 'Yelp' of banks

Asked how the CFPB would go about filling the board with new members, Welcher said roughly 200 applicants were under consideration. He spoke repeatedly of finding a diverse group of people.

"It was a smokescreen," said Kathleen Engel, a research law professor at Suffolk University and another board member. "They were trying to give the impression that we were still members of the CAB and they cared what we thought. But they didn't want to hold any more meetings."

Members of two other boards - the Community Bank Advisory Council the Credit Union Advisory Council - were similarly dismissed.

The CFPB was established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law to safeguard Americans from financial predators.

The agency has rolled out mortgage and payday-lender rules and cracked down on bad behavior by penalizing Citigroup, Wells Fargo and many other lenders.

But under Mulvaney, the bureau has reversed course. It has delayed the payday-loan rules, dropped lawsuits against payday lenders and stripped enforcement of fair-lending protections.

Related: CFPB chief is tired of people calling his agency by the wrong name

John Czwartacki, a spokesperson for the bureau, said it would meet its obligation under the law to hold board meetings. But the bureau also wants to reach the public through town halls and roundtables across the country, he said.

Board members on the call expressed alarm, especially considering that the bureau's new leadership had yet to meet with the board.

"The new bureau leadership has never met with any of us to determine - and even have a sense whether if this is valuable advice that the bureau is receiving," said Josh Zinner, the CEO of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a leading coalition of progressive shareholders.

"Maybe you can tell us the process by which the new bureau leadership has determined that three advisory boards with deep experience across all areas and diverse backgrounds are not useful to the bureau?"

On the conference call, Welcher dismissed the notion that the board's expertise wasn't "useful" and said the agency would probably invite some members to participate in future meetings.

"The difference is we're not going to necessarily be paying for your travel to have that conversation," he said.

- Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Kathleen Engel's name.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 479326

Reported Deaths: 9353
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32779484
Hinds30924582
DeSoto30319353
Jackson23542341
Rankin21235366
Lee14803219
Madison14120271
Jones13327223
Forrest13078236
Lauderdale11501303
Lowndes10377176
Lamar10163130
Pearl River9008217
Lafayette8193137
Hancock7404111
Oktibbeha6909122
Washington6900150
Monroe6459159
Neshoba6441201
Warren6387163
Pontotoc623093
Panola6203125
Bolivar6072144
Marshall6068121
Union571386
Pike5574135
Alcorn533289
Lincoln5283131
George466072
Scott454796
Leflore4444140
Prentiss443377
Tippah442180
Itawamba441599
Adams4376116
Tate4327101
Simpson4313112
Wayne430766
Copiah429587
Yazoo419686
Covington413292
Sunflower4123104
Marion4073104
Leake395486
Coahoma391098
Newton367274
Grenada3543104
Stone350359
Tishomingo333288
Attala324286
Jasper313162
Winston303091
Clay294173
Chickasaw286265
Clarke279890
Calhoun263940
Holmes261387
Smith248048
Yalobusha219647
Tallahatchie217550
Walthall209958
Greene206845
Lawrence205732
Perry198553
Amite197651
Webster195042
Noxubee177739
Montgomery171654
Jefferson Davis167442
Carroll161437
Tunica150834
Benton141533
Kemper138039
Claiborne126134
Choctaw126026
Humphreys125937
Franklin116328
Quitman103426
Wilkinson101536
Jefferson87333
Sharkey62320
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 778549

Reported Deaths: 13665
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1105871747
Mobile704651206
Madison49152610
Baldwin35946479
Shelby35796302
Tuscaloosa33410532
Montgomery32906672
Lee22231216
Calhoun20791397
Morgan19605326
Etowah18837449
Marshall17465272
Houston16452368
St. Clair15233293
Limestone14376182
Cullman14348246
Elmore14241256
Lauderdale13298278
Talladega12699230
DeKalb12036233
Walker10430323
Autauga9568133
Blount9555152
Jackson9235146
Coffee8728169
Colbert8426179
Dale8410170
Escambia6526114
Tallapoosa6501172
Covington6396163
Chilton6293141
Russell598555
Franklin5719100
Chambers5315133
Marion4734115
Dallas4665182
Clarke457076
Pike456294
Geneva4315116
Winston417192
Lawrence4086108
Bibb401680
Barbour341968
Marengo323183
Butler314988
Monroe314652
Pickens300470
Randolph299955
Henry298356
Hale289383
Cherokee284652
Fayette275672
Washington244848
Crenshaw235168
Clay225163
Macon217657
Cleburne217149
Lamar192140
Conecuh179646
Lowndes170158
Coosa166432
Wilcox155736
Bullock147742
Perry136036
Sumter124136
Greene120142
Choctaw72826
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