BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Healey yesterday, December 8 joined a coalition of 18 states supporting a challenge to President Trump’s decision to appoint Mick Mulvaney as the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The amicus brief, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in the English v. Mulvaney suit, argues that maintaining the Bureau’s independence is crucial to protecting consumers, and that Congress ensured this independence by creating a specific plan for succession.
“The CFPB was created in the aftermath of the worst financial crisis in 80 years to be a watchdog for consumers. Mulvaney was handpicked by the Trump Administration to lead the agency – counter to the succession plan laid out by Congress – and there are already indications that he intends to pull back on the critical work of the CFPB,” AG Healey said. “The CFPB has been a vital partner for states in our ongoing efforts to protect consumers, and I join my colleagues in filing this brief today to maintain the integrity and independence of the CFPB.”
Richard Cordray was the first director of the agency, which is designed to serve as an independent consumer advocate and check on the power of large financial-services businesses. He stepped down last month and, under the act that created the Bureau, his deputy director, Leandra English, became the acting director.
President Trump, citing an earlier federal law, claimed he had authority to appoint an acting director and selected Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney has been an outspoken critic of the Bureau and, while he served in Congress, voted to weaken the agency’s authority and questioned its existence. English brought suit to challenge President Trump’s effort.
Since 2011, when the agency began operating, the Bureau has handled more than a million consumer complaints and returned nearly $12 billion to the pockets of more than 29 million consumers wronged by financial institutions – five times more than the agency itself costs taxpayers to fund.
The Bureau has reached multiple settlements with banks, debt collectors, and other predatory lenders.
The attorneys general argue that allowing President Trump to circumvent the law regarding who serves as acting director seriously compromises the agency’s independence. “Attempts to dismantle Congress’s careful and concerted efforts in structuring the CFPB as a truly independent agency would, if successful, harm the Amici States’ ability to enforce the many consumer financial laws that protect their residents,” the brief says.
The amicus brief, led by the District of Columbia and joined by Massachusetts, was also joined by California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.