Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) sent a letter dated February 21, 2019, to employees of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau). The letter conveyed three main messages to Bureau staff.
1. Denounces Mulvaney’s Work
In the letter, Rep. Waters denounced the work done by Former Acting Director Mick Mulvaney during his tenure at the Bureau. Mulvaney’s appointment at the Bureau lasted a little over a year: from November 2017, when Former Director Cordray resigned, to when the Bureau’s new Director Kathy Kraninger took the lead in December 2018.
In that time, Rep. Waters claims that Mulvaney’s actions “were contrary to both the spirit and plain letter of the law and appear to be designed to frustrate the Consumer Bureau’s mission.” These actions “weakened” the Bureau, according to the letter.
2. Reaffirms Commitment to Focus on the Bureau
Rep. Waters reaffirmed her prior commitment to keep the focus on the Bureau now that she is the chair of the House Financial Services Committee. Rep. Waters writes that “the anti-consumer actions mandated by Trump appointees will not be tolerated. I will work hard to ensure that you will once again be fully empowered to perform your duties on behalf of America’s consumers.”
Calling herself and others in Congress allies of Bureau employees, Rep. Waters states:
As part of my duties as Chairwoman, I will also be conducting careful oversight of the agencies under the Committee’s jurisdiction, including the Consumer Bureau.
3. Recruits Bureau Employees to Become Whistleblowers
The letter explicitly encourages Bureau employees to become whistleblowers to help Rep. Waters to conduct oversight of the Bureau as mentioned in the prior point. “If in the course of your work, you are a witness to waste, fraud, abuse or gross mismanagement, please do not hesitate to alert me and my staff,” the letter states. This is followed by a reaffirmation that any Bureau employees who file reports shall not be subject to retaliation and are protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act and criminal prohibitions against threatening or tampering with witnesses testifying before congressional proceedings.
This letter shouldn’t come as a shock, seeing as Rep. Waters has made it abundantly clear that she disapproves of the Bureau’s direction in the past year or so. What’s interesting is that despite the Bureau having a new director for over two months, Director Kraninger’s name appears nowhere in this letter. The letter somewhat references Director Kraninger by discussing “Trump appointees,” but every reference to alleged wrongdoing refers directly to Former Acting Director Mulvaney. With that said, this hardly means that Director Kraninger is out of Rep. Waters’ target area.