Since taking control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau two months ago, Mick Mulvaney has faced a barrage of criticism from Democrats and consumer groups who complained he was attempting to weaken the agency.
On Tuesday, Mulvaney received support from another financial regulator, Comptroller of the Currency Joseph M. Otting. Otting took the helm of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in November, making him one of the country’s most powerful banking regulators. While it is not surprising that Otting and Mulvaney would work closely together, Otting’s public statements in support of Mulvaney are unusual.
“I have been impressed with Mick’s leadership and emphasis on operational efficiency and excellence,” Otting said in a statement.
“Our jobs as regulators is to help our system fulfill its important role in society by ensuring it operates in a safe and sound manner and treats customers fairly. But, unnecessary regulatory burden is a waste that places a drag on our entire economy without making the system safer or fairer.”
Mulvaney has been under pressure from some Democratic lawmakers for his efforts to revamp the CFPB, which was created after the global financial crisis. Under Mulvaney’s leadership, CFPB is reconsidering has dropped lawsuits and paused investigations into payday lenders and is reconsidering regulations. The CFPB office in charge of fair lending cases has also been stripped of its enforcement powers.
Most recently, Democratic lawmakers have lashed out at Mulvaney amid a Reuters report that the agency was backing off an investigation into a massive data breach at Equifax last year that exposed sensitive data about millions of people. The CFPB has denied that report.
“Acting Director Mulvaney takes data security issues very seriously. Under his direction, the CFPB is working with our partners across government on Equifax’s data breach and response,” John Czwartacki, a senior adviser to Mulvaney, said in a statement. “We are committed to enforcing the law. As policy, we do not confirm or deny enforcement or supervisory matters.”
But Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) has asked the agency’s inspector general to investigate the matter and others are calling for the Federal Trade Commission, which is also investigating the Equifax breach, to accelerate its efforts.
On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was asked about the report during a House Financial Services Committee meeting. “I haven’t spoken to Director Mulvaney about it but I will . . . It is something I am going to discuss with him,” Mnuchin said.
Mulvaney has laid out a sweeping plan for remaking the CFPB, which has long been criticized by Republicans for being too aggressive. In a memo to CFPB last month, Mulvaney said the agency would act with “humility and prudence” and no longer “push the envelope.”
On Tuesday, Mulvaney named Kirsten Sutton Mork chief of staff for the agency. Sutton Mork had spent years as a senior staff member of the House Financial Services Committee. The committee’s chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.) has been one of the CFPB fiercest critics.
“I applaud him for realigning his agency’s mission to the current needs of the nation, making its processes more transparent and fair,” said Otting.