Rival appointments to head Consumer Financial Protection Bureau create confusion

25 November 2017

President Trump and the outgoing head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau both named acting directors to head the watchdog agency yesterday, which led to disarray at the bureau.

Legal analysts were not in agreement on whether the White House or the CFPB had authority to name an acting director. According to some, the laws were open to interpretation and that the courts ultimately would need to decide the matter.

Trump's choice to head the bureau was White House budget director, Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney had once referred to the CFPB as a ''joke'' and said he wished it did not exist. Defenders of the agency said they were worried that Mulvaney, if given the position at  CFPB on a temporary basis, would gut its powers.

The series of events unfolded yesterday when the CFPB's long-time director, Richard Cordray, announced that he would leave at the end of the day instead of at the end of the month. He  promoted his chief of staff, Leandra English, to become deputy director. In a letter to CFPB staff, he wrote that English would serve as the agency's acting director until a replacement was confirmed by the Senate.

Cordray, the first and only director the agency has seen since it was created, is said to be looking to bid for governorship of Ohio and had announced earlier this month that he would be resigning before December.

According to commentators, the conflicting promotion from Cordray and appointment from Trump makes for a conflict with little clear precedent, and two acting CFPB heads. They say, the development comes as the latest challenge to the CFPB standing as an independent agency.

Cordray cited that specific provision of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act laying out the succession process in his announcement to CFPB employees. The deputy director position had earlier been filled by David Silberman in an acting capacity.

The Hill quoted Cordray, ''In considering how to ensure an orderly succession for this independent agency, I determined that it would be best to avoid leaving this key position filled only in an acting capacity.''

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