Former CFPB advisory board members criticize new structure of panel

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WASHINGTON — Consumer advocates and academics recently removed from a panel that advises the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on consumer issues said Monday they were "disappointed" that the board will be reconstituted with fewer members.

Seven former members of the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board issued a statement challenging acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney’s recent announcement of a smaller board with shorter terms.

On Friday, the CFPB appointed nine members to the advisory board, down from 25 members. The former board members also noted that the new panel only has two consumers advocates, compared with eight previously.

"While each of the individual members is qualified in her or his own right, the fact that there are so few of them means that Acting Bureau Director Mulvaney’s CAB lacks sufficient diversity and depth of perspective," the former members said of the new appointments.

The consumer advisory board members’ terms were also reduced from three years to one year.

“New members will be just getting started when their terms end,” the group said. “One year does not permit members to provide the type of rich feedback and perspective that traditionally has been the role of the CAB.”

In June, Mulvaney disbanded the board, saying it needed fresh eyes with more diverse views.

“One of the most valuable aspects of the recently disbanded CAB was that it provided a forum for fruitful and productive conversations among a variety of stakeholders in consumer finance, which often generated valuable insights for the Bureau and the CAB members,” the former members said in their statement. “This will be missing from the new CAB.”

The statement was sent by Ann Baddour of Texas Appleseed, Lynn Drysdale of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc., Kathleen Engel of Suffolk University Law School, Ruhi Maker of the Empire Justice Center, Lisa Servon of the University of Pennsylvania, Chi Chi Wu of the National Consumer Law Center, and Josh Zinner of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

Also on Friday, the CFPB announced new members of two other advisory boards whose members had been removed in June. The bureau’s Community Bank Advisory Council has seven new members, down from 19 previously. The agency’s Credit Union Advisory Council also has seven new members, versus 17 before the terminations.

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