CFPB chief Mick Mulvaney disbands consumer protection board

Last Updated Jun 6, 2018 2:46 PM EDT

NEW YORK — The Trump administration is disbanding a panel of experts focused on protecting consumers from financial abuse.

Members of the panel, called the Consumer Advisory Board, say Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Acting Director Mick Mulvaney has dissolved the group, which includes consumer advocates, financial industry representatives, community leaders and others. The board advises the CFPB, a federal agency formed after the housing crash to prevent financial abuse.

Mulvaney, told the board's 25 members that they are being replaced and the panel overhauled, according to two of the members. These people requested anonymity since the announcement was not official yet.

"By both right-sizing its advisory councils and ramping up outreach to external groups, the bureau will enhance its ability to hear from consumer, civil rights, and industry groups on a more regular basis," the CFPB said in a statement. 

Under Dodd Frank, the 2010 financial reform law that created the CFPB, the consumer panel is required to meet twice a year. But meetings were repeatedly cancelled since Mulvaney took the helm at the bureau in November.

Nearly a dozen members of the consumer board have expressed concern about the direction of the CFPB.

"As the Bureau unilaterally shifts its mission from one prioritizing consumer protection and upholding fair market practices to one focused on industry regulatory relief, we see families, once again, being left behind," Ann Baddour, the consumer panel's chair and director of the Fair Financial Services Project at Texas Appleseed, said in the statement posted by the National Consumer Law Center. 

Other panel members include an attorney involved in regulatory affairs at Mastercard, a law professor with expertise in mortgages, a banker with Citi and community advocates.

In May, 15 members of the board wrote to Mulvaney to ask him to hold a meeting that had been scheduled for this week, but the gathering was cancelled. They complained he has held only one short meeting with group members.

As head of the CFPB, Mulvaney has moved to eliminate or blunt a number of financial regulations, including rules for payday lending, pre-paid cards, mortgages and student loans, while also curbing its industry oversight.