01.11.2018 0

Mick Mulvaney can end the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

By Printus LeBlanc

A slew of recent reports painted an unflattering picture of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). These are the latest in a long line of suspect actions by the unconstitutional agency. It is time to do something about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) pet agency.

In December, the New York Times reported on a group of CFPB employees using encrypted messaging applications, such as WhatsApp and Signal, to communicate amongst one another on their government-issued phones. The group calls themselves “Dumbledore’s Army.” The group is using the apps to avoid creating official records of what they are doing, and according to the article, they have the goal of undermining the orders of the newly appointed Director Mick Mulvaney. This is problematic for two reasons:

  1. Actively disobeying orders to undermine your boss’s lawful order is a violation of the federal employee oath of office. Disobeying lawful orders fails to faithfully discharge the duties of the office.
  2. If the group is conducting work business with the apps, it is a violation of the Federal Records Act. The act requires all federal agencies to preserve the records of anything that relates to a government employee’s duties.

Those using the apps to conduct official business have clearly broken their oath and the law. Therefore they should be fired from the CFPB and declared ineligible for future government employment.

The CFPB is also in the news because of the extravagant renovations to their headquarters. When Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act, creating the CFPB, the language was inserted to deliberately make the CFPB unaccountable to anyone, including Congress and the taxpayers. This essentially handed a blank check to former director Richard Cordray to renovate an office building yards from the White House. It is hard to believe any building within earshot of the Oval Office needs renovating.

After the initial estimate hit $55 million, it ballooned to $216 million for such extravagances as a four-story glass staircase, a two-story waterfall, and a sunken garden. The Federal Reserve Inspector General found there was no reason for the price tag to be that high, the GSA lowered the estimate to only $99 million. The final bill came in more than 220 percent above the original $55 million estimate at $124 million. That included lounge seats on the plaza deck, sunken garden areas, male and female fitness rooms (what no third option), quartz surfaces, and tens of thousands in bike racks.

To get an idea of how ridiculous the building is, Trump World Tower in New York cost $334 per square foot to build, and the Bellagio in Las Vegas cost $330. The CFPB renovations, not new building construction but renovation, cost the taxpayers $416 per square foot.

All of this is on top of the recent allegations by a whistleblower claiming CFPB management engaged in fraud, conspiracy, and discrimination. The CFPB employee sent a letter detailing criminal corruption to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in December.

Cassandra Jackson detailed a case in which she found a check cashing business, Ace Cash Express, in compliance with all regulations. Her superiors told her to falsify documents, so it appeared the company was not in compliance. After Jackson refused, the managers manipulated her submitted report to reflect their desired outcome. The result of the action cost Ace Cash Express $10 million in fines and fees. That seems to fit the definition of fraud, conspiracy, falsifying evidence, and theft to say the least.

The good news is, Acting Director Mick Mulvaney can fix the problem. There are currently several lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the agency. The structure of the CFPB violates the Constitution’s separation of powers because the agency is insulated against meaningful checks by the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. Mulvaney can order the CFPB lawyers to settle the cases and declare the agency unconstitutional.

Printus LeBlanc is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government

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