Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, gets the deep-dive treatment from the Washington Post today, which delves into how the agency has changed in the year that Mulvaney has been in charge. And what the Post concludes is that Mulvaney “and his political aides have constrained the agency from within, achieving what conservatives on Capitol Hill had for years been unable to do.”
Citing a 75% drop in enforcement actions and an exodus of 129 employees during the past year as proof that Mulvaney has “used the levers of government to hinder career employees and roll back oversight of private industry,” the report details how the BCFP’s mission has been fundamentally changed under Mulvaney, a change that will likely continue should Kathy Kraninger be confirmed by the Senate as the agency’s next director.
The report has some great anecdotes and behind-the-scenes explanations of what’s transpired at the BCFP during Mulvaney’s tenure. For example, on his first day, Mulvaney brought a box of donuts that were gobbled up by agency employees. What Mulvaney did not mention was that the donuts were actually for protestors he was expecting to encounter when he walked into the office. When no protestors showed up, he gave the donuts to BCFP employees.
But beyond office politics, the report also looks at how the BCFP’s enforcement activities have changed under Mulvaney. BCFP lawyers had suggested a fine of $60 million against National Credit Adjusters, for example. The collection agency was accused of impersonating law enforcement officials while attempting to collect debts. But Eric Blankenstein, who would get into hot water later for some of his writings, a new hire brought to the BCFP by Mulvaney, had the fine dropped to $800,000.
A spokesman for the BCFP said the agency had been unfairly targeting companies. “The enforcement arms of government should not be used in order to shake down the productive sector just because we can, especially when the legal case is shaky at best,” he said.
The report looks at other changes that have been made — from a new seal to a new name, as well as re-arranging departments and hiring decisions made by Mulvaney, as well as the decision not to let Blankenstein go after his claim that the majority of hate crimes were hoaxes. To that end, Mulvaney has remained “defiant,” the article concludes.
“Be assured I am not going to let any outside group dictate how I structure or manage the Bureau,” he wrote Oct. 11. “Our focus must always remain on doing our jobs, enforcing the law, and working together to do a great job for the American people.”