GOP senator seeks probe into English appointment

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) launched an inquiry into the appointment of Leandra English to her role as chief of staff at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)
Johnson

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) launched an inquiry into the appointment of Leandra English to her role as chief of staff at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Johnson, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Henry Kerner, the head of the Office of Special Counsel, raising concerns that the CFPB may have violated federal rules, according to a report in The Hill.

Before joining the bureau in 2017, English worked as principal deputy chief of staff in the Office of Personnel Management, as well as in positions with the Office of Budget Management and the Treasury Department.

Johnson argued that English’s appointment was an instance of burrowing, or “a practice in which a non-career, political appointee converts to a career position outside of competitive hiring processes.”

The senator’s objection at least partially rests on what he claims was incorrect title and salary information on paperwork filed with the OPM as part of English’s move to the CFPB. The errors were only fixed after English’s appointment as CFPB chief of staff in January 2017, Johnson said.

“According to information provided by OPM, it appears that OPM hastily approved Ms. English’s conversion in the waning days of the Obama Administration based on information that included errors, potential conflicts of interest, and insufficient independent verification,” he wrote in the four-page letter.

In response to an inquiry from Johnson, OPM Acting Director Kathleen McGettigan said English’s appointment was “free from political influence.” Johnson claimed the conversion process was rushed, however, having been completed in two weeks.

Johnson’s inquiry is the latest volley in the back-and-forth over who ought to be leading the CFPB. Former Director Richard Cordray appointed English as deputy director of the agency on Nov. 24, the same day he resigned. Also on Nov. 24, President Donald Trump appointed OMB Director Mick Mulvaney as the CFPB’s interim director.

According to the Dodd-Frank Act, the deputy director takes over when the CFPB director leaves. However, the Trump administration claimed the President had the right to appoint an acting director based on the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

Both English and Mulvaney have claimed they are rightful head of the CFPB until a permanent replacement is named. A judge sided with Mulvaney in an initial ruling last month, but English, who still works at the bureau, has filed a second suit seeking an injunction to install herself as acting director.

In his first weeks on the job, Mulvaney set a temporary hiring and regulatory freeze. Once it lifted, he hired six new high-ranking administrators to support him, each of whom are drawn from other positions within the Trump Administration.