Consumer protection bureau changing sides

A federal judge allowed the president’s selection of the budget director, Mick Mulvaney, to take over as acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, ending a legal battle initiated by interim director Leandra English.

US District Judge Timothy Kelly on Tuesday declined to impose an injunction on Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney, who opposes financial regulations, to lead the government watchdog, in a lawsuit filed by English, who was left in charge of the pro-consumer bureau by its outgoing chief Richard Cordray.

Kelly’s decision recognizes the executive powers of the White House.

“Denying the president’s authority to appoint Mr Mulvaney raises significant constitutional questions,” he said.

The White House was quick to claim political victory over the Democrats who had been backing English in the dispute.

“The administration applauds the Court’s decision, which provides further support for the president’s rightful authority to designate director Mulvaney as acting director of the CFPB,” said Raj Shah, deputy White House press secretary.

“It’s time for the Democrats to stop enabling this brazen political stunt by a rogue employee and allow acting director Mulvaney to continue the bureau’s smooth transition into an agency that truly serves to help consumers,” said Shah.

The conflict between Mulvaney and English became a lightening rod illustrating the clash of political ambitions between a president who wants to cut regulations and roll back the influence of the federal government and progressives determined to protect consumers injured by the 2008 financial crash.

Under Cordray, the CFPB was an important restraint on the big banks as part of the Dodd-Frank reforms under which it was created.

Trump’s pick to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau faces a rival incumbent but it only seems to be delaying a tidal shift at the banking agency, as Mulvaney took up his position as acting director on Monday despite the dispute over who was to hold the position until a permanent leader could be nominated and approved by the US senate.

He imposed a 30-day freeze on new hires and told all staff to disregard any instructions they got from English. 

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