March 16, 2018

Warren Presses Mick Mulvaney on Failure to Respond to Dozens of Questions about His Questionable Actions and Leadership at Consumer Agency

Provided Evasive, Misleading, or Incomplete Answers to More than 100 Questions from Senator Warren

Text of letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today sent a 17-page letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney following up on his responses to nine of her previous letters about his questionable actions and leadership while running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Along with colleagues, Senator Warren has sent Mr. Mulvaney a series of substantive and detailed questions in order to understand his anti-consumer actions and he has responded with answers that are almost entirely inadequate.

"The nine letters that I have sent you since November 2017 included 125 questions and requests for information. You have ignored or provided evasive, misleading, or incomplete answers to 105 of these questions," wrote Senator Warren. "That is an unacceptable track record for a public official. I ask that you answer these questions and provide the transparency needed for Congress and the American public to assess whether you are following the law and managing the CFPB effectively."

As Ranking Member of the Banking Committee subcommittee with jurisdiction over the CFPB, Senator Warren has been carrying out her responsibility to conduct oversight of Mr. Mulvaney's actions at the CFPB. Since November 2017, she and her colleagues have sent nine letters about Mr. Mulvaney's actions to roll back consumer protections and undermine the Bureau's authority and independence.

Below are the nine letters Senator Warren has sent to Mr. Mulvaney and details about his largely evasive, misleading, and incomplete answers:

1) November 27, 2017: Senator Warren wrote to Mr. Mulvaney with questions and concerns regarding the conflicts of interest arising from his dual roles at the CFPB and OMB.   

  • No response from Mr. Mulvaney.  

2) December 1, 2017: Senator Warren and Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Sherrod Brown wrote to Mr. Mulvaney about his statements indicating that he would stop payments from the Civil Penalty Fund designed to assist consumers.

  • Mr. Mulvaney responded that he was "aware of pending payments from the fund, and while I do not intend to delay their release, I do intend to carefully review the distributions before they are made." There has been no further update on this review. Link to letter

3) December 18, 2017: Senator Warren wrote to Mr. Mulvaney about reports indicating he had initiated a review of more than 100 enforcement matters in litigation, completed investigations, and ongoing investigations -- seeking information about the purpose of this review and the personnel that were involved.

  • Mr. Mulvaney admitted that he was conducting this review and stated only that "non-career staff and I have understand each specific enforcement or supervision matter." The response addressed the review broadly, but failed to answer 14 specific questions to help Congress and the American public understand the rationale for his actions and those of his staff. Link to letter

4)  December 18, 2017: Senator Warren wrote to Mr. Mulvaney about her concerns that his unprecedented and unusual efforts to bring political appointees to the CFPB was an impermissible effort to politicize the agency.

  • Mr. Mulvaney responded that "other financial regulators and independent agencies have non-career staff," so these appointments were "entirely appropriate."  This response was misleading.  Senator Warren's letter noted that no other financial regulator had nearly as many political appointments as Mulvaney planned to bring to the CFPB, and that their appointees serve primarily as personal staff, rather than policy staff.  Link to letter
  • Mr. Mulvaney also failed to provide a requested briefing about why and how he was modifying broad precedents established at CFPB and other financial regulators.

5) January 4, 2018: Senator Warren wrote to Mr. Mulvaney about the harmful impacts of his decision to halt the collection of all data containing personally identifiable information (PII), which stopped all bank examinations for a time and precluded the enforcement team from reviewing evidence in their investigations.

  • Mr. Mulvaney responded by citing breaches within the Bureau's Consumer Response system and suspected breaches by financial institutions using the company portal as evidence that his complete freeze of data collection was necessary. But his answers left out key facts: The CFPB had already developed an implementation plan to address problems and the IG reports he relied on never recommended shutting down any activities.  Link to letter
  • Mr. Mulvaney's failed to reveal that the CFPB outperformed the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Securities and Exchange Commission on the quality of its cybersecurity practices.
  • Mulvaney failed entirely to answer all of the 19 questions and requests for information in the letter.

6) January 19, 2018: Senator Warren along with several other senators wrote to Mr. Mulvaney about the CFPB's incomplete Annual Report to Congress on College Credit Card Agreements and the failure to include pertinent information.

  • Mr. Mulvaney simply summarized what was in the report, and did not respond to any of the questions posed to him about the process for the report and further analysis of difficulties facing students. Link to letter

7) January 31, 2018: Senator Warren and Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, Representative Maxine Waters, and dozens of their House and Senate colleagues wrote to Mr. Mulvaney about their concerns and questions relating to a series of actions the CFPB took under his leadership to benefit payday lenders at the expense of consumers.

  • Mr. Mulvaney responded merely that he "rejected (the) insinuation" that his decisions were based on anything other than the facts and law at issue, and urged Senator Warren to "discuss policy matters as" a responsible public office. Mulvaney ignored every one of Senator Warren's ten questions and provided zero justification for his actions. Link to letter

8) February 7, 2018: Senator Brian Schatz, Senator Warren, and 28 of their Senate colleagues wrote to Mr. Mulvaney about reports that he had either slowed or stopped the CFPB's investigation into the Equifax breach and the company's response.

  • Mr. Mulvaney merely responded that "it is a matter of public record that the Bureau is looking into Equifax's data breach and response," and that "reports to the contrary are incorrect." He only answered three out of ten detailed questions, made no mention of the reports claiming that he had slowed down or stalled the investigation, and offered nothing about specific references of his failures to take basic procedural steps or accept offers of assistance from other financial regulators. Link to letter

9) February 16, 2018: Senator Brown, Senator Warren, and Representative Maxine Waters, along with their House and Senate colleagues, wrote to Mr. Mulvaney about his decision to relocate the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity and to strip it of its statutorily mandated supervisory and enforcement powers.

  • Mr. Mulvaney did not respond to any of the 14 specific questions, and instead asserted without proof that the reorganization "will not hamper" the Bureau's enforcement and supervisory work. Link to letter

In her letter, Senator Warren included all 105 unanswered questions and requests for information and asked Mr. Mulvaney to provide more complete responses to all of them by no later than March 31, 2018.