Past statements by Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should disqualify him from leading the agency, according to New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and 16 other state attorneys general.
In a letter to President Trump dated Tuesday, the AGs said that many of Mulvaney's comments were unfair.
"We are very concerned by the widely reported statements that your choice for acting director of the agency, Mick Mulvaney, has made about the role of the agency, calling it 'a joke…in a sick, sad kind of way,' and 'an awful example of a bureaucracy that has gone wrong,' " the letter stated. "Such statements about an agency that has helped millions of American consumers and achieved fundamental reform in a number of critically important areas of American commerce are categorically false, and should disqualify Mr. Mulvaney from leading the agency, even on an acting basis."
The letter is the latest attempt by Democrats to undermine Mulvaney, who reports directly to Trump as head of OMB but was tapped to also lead the independent agency despite his repeated criticisms of it.
If Mulvaney tries to stop the CFPB's staff from pursuing fraud and abuse, Schneiderman said state attorneys general will step up to the plate.
"If incoming CFPB leadership prevents the agency's professional staff from aggressively pursuing consumer abuse and financial misconduct, we will redouble our efforts at the state level to root out such misconduct and hold those responsible to account," the letter stated.
Though Mulvaney has been the CFPB's acting director for just two weeks, he has already announced plans to start hiring political staffers to be paired with career CFPB officials heading various divisions. The move has drawn outrage from Democrats who continue to say the agency should be independent.
Schneiderman and the AGs appeared to be broadcasting to financial firms as much as the Trump administration that with Mulvaney on the job, states will be more aggressive.
"Regardless of the future direction or leadership of the CFPB, we as state attorneys general will vigorously enforce state and federal laws to ensure fairness and deter fraud," the letter said.
The letter listed seven separate settlements and enforcement actions that the CFPB pursued jointly with various states, including an alleged loan scam luring 9/11 first responders, high-cost loans made by for-profit colleges, abusive credit card practices by JPMorgan Chase, and mortgage servicing settlements with SunTrust Mortgage and Ocwen Financial.
"As you know, state attorneys general have express statutory authority to enforce federal consumer protection laws, as well as the consumer protection laws of our respective states," the letter said. "We will continue to enforce those laws vigorously regardless of changes to CFPB's leadership or agenda."