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.

Huntsville/Redstone
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 35°
Muscle Shoals
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 39°
Huntsville/Madison
Partly Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 67° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 33°
Decatur
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 35°
Fort Payne
Partly Cloudy
31° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 26°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 494421

Reported Deaths: 9991
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson711451374
Mobile36184735
Madison32457458
Tuscaloosa24213412
Montgomery22636517
Shelby22020214
Baldwin19790284
Lee14980154
Morgan13693251
Calhoun13307287
Etowah13192320
Marshall11269209
Houston10102261
Elmore9408185
Limestone9376134
Cullman8903181
St. Clair8839224
Lauderdale8601212
DeKalb8465175
Talladega7552164
Walker6538258
Jackson6503103
Autauga630391
Blount6106127
Colbert5993119
Coffee5254102
Dale4648107
Russell405233
Franklin399478
Covington3970106
Chilton3883100
Escambia378172
Tallapoosa3596143
Clarke343753
Chambers3421111
Dallas3412141
Pike293372
Lawrence283684
Marion283495
Winston247368
Bibb245460
Geneva240270
Marengo236557
Pickens224555
Barbour212451
Hale210668
Fayette200957
Butler197566
Henry182641
Cherokee177139
Monroe166339
Randolph163840
Washington156635
Crenshaw145254
Clay145054
Macon142343
Cleburne137841
Lamar133133
Lowndes131251
Wilcox122525
Bullock117136
Conecuh106724
Perry105827
Sumter98632
Coosa89224
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 776337

Reported Deaths: 11436
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby873161492
Davidson81556869
Knox46018581
Hamilton40396462
Rutherford38385382
Williamson25282203
Sumner21383315
Montgomery17414213
Out of TN1695094
Wilson16423210
Unassigned15587125
Sullivan14346274
Blount14066181
Bradley12918139
Washington12774234
Maury12220163
Sevier12038163
Putnam10603169
Madison10102228
Robertson8962121
Hamblen8023164
Anderson7991157
Greene7294145
Tipton6948103
Coffee6320115
Dickson6228106
Gibson6188141
Cumberland6106121
Carter5974152
McMinn593191
Roane590796
Bedford5797120
Loudon569665
Jefferson5659119
Lawrence556883
Monroe533190
Warren531475
Hawkins525194
Dyer5237101
Franklin473685
Fayette466971
Obion436595
Rhea415173
Lincoln414062
Cocke399093
Cheatham391244
Marshall391156
Campbell380459
Weakley378959
Giles373896
Henderson361973
Carroll348981
Hardeman338564
White338266
Macon336573
Hardin331063
Lauderdale309242
Henry300975
Marion294144
Scott287644
Wayne287130
Overton284857
Claiborne279768
McNairy267853
DeKalb265549
Hickman265141
Haywood264860
Smith256036
Grainger243146
Trousdale239022
Morgan229738
Fentress229344
Johnson216338
Chester201748
Bledsoe200210
Crockett197247
Unicoi180547
Polk176522
Cannon175029
Union172233
Grundy168630
Lake167826
Sequatchie156027
Decatur153937
Humphreys153721
Benton151039
Lewis147025
Meigs126621
Jackson125234
Stewart123624
Clay107130
Perry103327
Houston102932
Moore94416
Van Buren79520
Pickett74623
Hancock49512

Community Events