Mulvaney asserts control at CFPB

Interim CFPB director Mick Mulvaney appointed six new high-ranking administrators to support him, each of whom are drawn from other positions within the Trump Administration.

The newly-appointed interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney, last week announced plans to bring on six new high-ranking administrators to support him in his new position. The move appears to be in response to dissent in the bureau to Mulvaney’s appointment.

Each of the six new people are drawn from other positions within the Trump Administration. Some, like Mulvaney himself, will still hold their previous positions as well as working at the CFPB. The new names are John Czwartacki from the Office of Management and Budget (which Mulvaney also leads); Emma Doyle, Mulvaney’s chief of staff at OMB; James Galkowski, a special assistant to Mulvaney at OMB; Eric Blankenstein, a lawyer from the Office of the United States Trade Representative; Brian Johnson, a staffer at the House Financial Services Committee, and Sheila Greenwood, an official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The move appears to combat a spirit of dissent that has been on display at the bureau since the departure of Richard Cordray and President Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney as interim director over Cordray’s chosen successor, Leandra English.

English sued in federal court, seeking a preliminary injunction that would halt Mulvaney’s appointment. She then began to take up the responsibilities of director. The injunction was denied and hearings on the merits of the case are ongoing. Mulvaney last week issued a memo ordering bureau employees to ignore English.

“Please disregard any instructions you receive from Ms. English in her presumed capacity as Acting Director,” Mulvaney wrote to staff in a memo. “If you receive additional communications from her… please inform the General Counsel.”

Mulvaney hopes to install political personnel in important positions to ensure that financial regulations are properly implemented. Mulvaney has stated that for “every major branch of CFPB — enforcement, rulemaking, education, legal,” he would “try to marry [that branch’s] senior staffer … up with a political position.”

The six new hires are the vanguard of that re-organization. Though there has been criticism that such a move politicizes an agency that was designed to be independent, Mulvaney said in a press conference that “a lot of the people were political anyway.” He noted that there are over 1600 employees at the Bureau, so the argument that the agency will become a tool of the Trump Administration is overblown.

Mulvaney also noted that the process of assigning political staffers to career staffers who head divisions has long worked well at the OMB. When asked about his timeline for adding more political staffers, Mulvaney replied: “Now.”

Fredrikson & Byron Law