Editor’s Note: Updated with comments from current and former members of the Consumer Advisory Board below.
Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, does not appear to take criticism well.
Days after nearly half of the agency’s Consumer Advisory Board spoke out and shared their concerns about Mulvaney canceling another Consumer Advisory Board meeting, the acting director took the bold step of firing all 25 members of the CAB, as well as everyone on the Community Bank Advisory Council and the Credit Union Advisory Council. Mulvaney said the CFPB will look to add new members to all three boards later this year.
There was one member of the Consumer Advisory Board who had direct ties to the ARM industry – Ohad Samet, the CEO of TrueAccord. In a statement given earlier this week, Samet said he was willing to give Mulvaney the benefit of the doubt and was hopeful about still having the two required meetings this year. AccountsRecovery.net has reached back out to Samet to see if he has an additional comment based on Mulvaney’s housecleaning and will update this story as needed.
A CFPB employee said in a call on Wednesday announcing the decision that the bureau will save “multi-hundred-thousand dollars per year” by not hosting the meetings in Washington, D.C. But a number of board members said they were willing to pay their own way to the nation’s capital to participate in the meetings. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the law that created the CFPB and three boards, requires that the Consumer Advisory Board meet twice per year. The Consumer Advisory Board had been meeting three times per year under former director Richard Cordray.
A spokesman for the CFPB, John Czwartacki, took an interesting jab at the Consumer Advisory Board when he said:
“The outspoken members of the Consumer Advisory Board seem more concerned about protecting their taxpayer funded junkets to Washington, D.C., and being wined and dined by the Bureau than protecting consumers.”
Mulvaney’s decision was roundly criticized by Democrats in Congress and by consumer advocates who were on the Consumer Advisory Board.
“The new bureau leadership has never met with any of us to determine, and even have a sense of, whether this is valuable advice that the bureau is receiving,” said Josh Zinner, chief executive of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
[UPDATE: 9:20am] Joann Needleman, the leader of the Consumer Financial Services Regulatory & Compliance group at Clark Hill, as well as the immediate past President of the Board of Directors of the National Creditors Bar Association (NARCA), and a former member of the Consumer Advisory Board, shared this comment:
I am disappointed that Mulvaney chose to fire all the CAB members but the structure of the Bureau gives him this right. However, there were a fair amount of members that were set to roll off and he could have replaced them with members more aligned with his vision. While industry members, like myself, never believed our viewpoints were going to change the Bureau’s mission, we were able to bring important perspective to those who may have not otherwise considered an alternative viewpoint. I never really spent time with consumers advocates before the CAB, and I found that we probably had more in common than we had differences. I hope that the Acting Director will continue to bring diverse viewpoints to the CAB.
Ohad Samet, the CEO of TrueAccord, shared this comment:
Every administration chooses its ways to engage with the public and industry stakeholders. While I regret not having more time to serve as part of the CAB, there are many other public ways to engage with the CFPB and provide data about innovation that both protects consumers and works with consumer preferences. Some of them were hinted in the Bureau’s statement. I look forward to continue engaging with Bureau staff in any way possible and encourage others to do the same.