Conservatives Call on Mulvaney to Audit CFPB Finances

Chance for in-depth audit exists because of recent court victories

Mick Mulvaney / Getty Images
February 6, 2018

More than 25 conservative leaders are pressing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Acting Director Mick Mulvaney to conduct an audit of the bureau's finances.

"Every aspect related to CFPB should be put on the table, and what we can do through administrative action, either through the audit process or whatever rollbacks we need to do, we should do it," said FreedomWorks vice president of legislative affairs Jason Pye, who signed on to a letter sent to Mulvaney last week.

The CFPB is a creation of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act and has been under the leadership of Obama appointees until November of last year when the long-time director Richard Cordray resigned to pursue his candidacy for Ohio governor.

The exit set off a power struggle: Cordray attempted to appoint hand-picked successor Leandra English to serve as acting director, while President Trump appointed his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, to serve in that post.

A legal appeal is still playing out over whether Mulvaney will remain, but a judge refused to issue an injunction that would have removed Mulvaney from office, suggesting he is likely to prevail.

Conservatives are pressing Mulvaney for transparency, as they have criticized the CFPB for being both unaccountable and also unconstitutional.

"Just a couple of years ago a federal court ruled that the CFPB was unconstitutional," Pye said. "We know that the fines and fees collected from settlements are kind of just kept in a slush fund, that they're not really appropriated around by Congress or anything like that. And I think taxpayers need to have a better understanding of what CFPB does with the money they collect."

Other groups and individuals who have signed on to the letter include the former senator and Heritage director Jim DeMint, as well as the Grover Norquist-led Americans for Tax Reform.

Outside of policy areas, the CFPB has taken heat for cost overruns related to renovations of a new headquarters that totaled out at about $145 million.

"Some of the obvious questions I asked myself when walking into the renovated Bureau headquarters on my first day as Acting Director were: who initially authorized these renovations, were they absolutely necessary, and were adequate cost controls in place? As I begin to focus on the Bureau's budget, I hope to discover the facts behind these excesses and help ensure abuses won't happen again," Mulvaney recently told the Daily Caller News Foundation by email.

A smaller court case in which Mulvaney and the president's claim to the leadership of the agency was recently settled in federal court in New York, when the request by a credit union to have English instated as the acting director was dismissed for lack of standing.

Meanwhile, English is continuing with her appeal for a court injunction against Mulvaney, but is taking that action on her own because CFPB counsel did not agree with the legal rationale for English's arguments. That case is being financially underwritten by an anonymous donor, not English herself.