April 27, 2018

Warren Questions Mick Mulvaney About Influence of Campaign Contributions on CFPB Decisions

Warren Presses Agency Ethics Officials on Rules for Mulvaney Decisions Affecting Campaign Contributors; Letter Comes After Mulvaney Admits Refusal to Meet with Lobbyists Unless They Donated to his Congressional Campaigns

Text of Letter to Mr. Mulvaney (PDF) | Text of Letter to CFPB Ethics Official (PDF)

Washington, DC - Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter questioning Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney about the influence of campaign contributions from the financial industry on decisions he has made since he assumed control over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The senator's letter follows a New York Times report about Mr. Mulvaney's comments to the American Bankers Association (ABA) that as a Member of Congress he refused to meet with lobbyists unless they donated to his campaign.

In his speech to bankers and bank lobbyists, Mr. Mulvaney stated, "If you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn't talk to you. If you're a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you." In a February 2018 response to a letter from Senator Warren and Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) about Mr. Mulvaney's decision to delay and reconsider the CFPB's payday lending rule, Mr. Mulvaney "rejected (the) insinuation" that his decision had anything to do with the $63,000 in campaign contributions he had received from payday lenders. In light of Mr. Mulvaney's admission that financial contributions affected his decisions as a Member of Congress, Senator Warren renewed her questions about Mr. Mulvaney's payday rule decision. She added, "Your recent admission also raises questions about your other official actions at the CFPB."

Warren cited Mr. Mulvaney's statement during his speech to the ABA that he intends to undermine the CFPB consumer complaint hotline by hiding consumer complaint information from the public.  She noted that this move would allow financial institutions to conceal scams from potential customers and would weaken a tool often used by consumers to resolve complaints with financial companies.  Senator Warren pointed out that Mr. Mulvaney's decision to hide this information enjoyed the strong support of the ABA and Credit Union National Association-which collectively contributed more than $60,000 to Mr. Mulvaney's congressional campaigns.

Senator Warren's letter outlined how other actions Mr. Mulvaney has taken at the CFPB-revisiting a rule aimed at curbing discrimination in mortgage lending and gutting the agency's Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity-have directly benefitted his previous campaign contributors.  "Almost every one of your major decisions at the CFPB has fulfilled a request of a lobbying organization that has donated tens of thousands of dollars to your political campaigns," wrote Senator Warren. "The public deserves to know whether this is a coincidence or is a reflection of the same kind of ‘hierarchy' you created when you ran your congressional office."

Senator Warren also sent a letter to CFPB's Designated Agency Ethics Official, Deputy General Counsel Sonya White, asking what arrangements the CFPB has made to ensure that Mr. Mulvaney is excluded from decisions that affect the financial institutions that have given him campaign contributions.

The letter then requested information on whether Mr. Mulvaney has continued to favor campaign contributors while leading the CFPB.