On Monday, a Constitutional conflict broke loose in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when Leanne English, supposed acting director of the agency, claimed that she had the authority to run CFPB despite the Trump administration’s appointment of Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney to run the agency. The short story is simple: English has no such authority. But she’s an acolyte of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the political Left uses the CFPB as a cash machine, and they have no intention of giving up control of the agency without a fight.
Ronald Rubin, an enforcement attorney at the CFPB, has an article at National Review explaining the development of the CFPB into a Democratic goody-bag:
From 2014 to 2017, the bureau paid $11 million a year to rent office space in an Obama fundraiser’s building. The Dodd-Frank Act allowed the CFPB to send the civil money penalties collected in its enforcement actions to a trustee of its choice, who, after taking a healthy cut, distributed the funds to ostensible victims in unrelated matters. The maneuver both enriched Democratic trustees and transformed fines extracted from defenseless businesses based on their deep pockets rather than actual consumer harm into “over $12 billion in damages returned to 29 million injured consumers.” To spread such propaganda, the bureau paid over $43 million to GMMB, the liberal advocacy group that created ads for the Obama and Hillary Clinton presidential campaigns.
Cordray was on the chopping block from the Trump administration, but he resigned in order to avoid the axe. He then appointed his deputy, English, his successor. His goal? According to Rubin, a cover-up:
Cordray feared that Mulvaney would discover evidence the CFPB has been hiding for years, including the bureau’s failure to investigate the Wells Fargo fraud; data manipulation in its failed attempt to regulate car dealers by guessing buyers’ races and alleging discriminatory lending; inspector-general admonishments to stop obstructing congressional oversight; and some particularly explosive sexual-harassment claims against CFPB senior managers.
This led to a supposed legal conflict: under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, Trump could appoint the acting director, but under Dodd-Frank, the deputy director becomes acting director in cases of “absence or unavailability.” That’s not really a conflict: absence and unavailability generally do not include resignation. And if they did, that would pose a serious separation of powers issue, since the new acting director wouldn’t be approved by the Senate or appointed by the president. But Cordray appointed English anyway, and English is now pretending that she runs the place.
This is partisan political hackery, not law. Cordray has no legal authority to appoint English, and English has no legal authority to take the job. Any court that rules otherwise is acting in similarly partisan fashion. This isn’t a Constitutional crisis. It’s just a venal bureaucrat trying to prop up his gubernatorial hopes in Ohio.