Waters urges CFPB employees to blow whistle on agency leaders

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WASHINGTON — House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters is encouraging staff at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to report any waste, fraud or mismanagement at the agency under the Trump administration’s leadership.

“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,” the California Democrat said in an open letter to CFPB employees Friday. “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.”

She added that the Whistleblower Protection Act offers protections to employees who report violations, and that the committee under her leadership will not tolerate intimidation or retaliation against any potential witnesses at a federal agency.

In the letter, Waters said she was troubled to hear reports of a significant drop in morale at the CFPB under the leadership of former acting Director Mick Mulvaney, who is currently the acting White House chief of staff.

“I am writing to reassure you of the importance and value of your work, and to let you know, in no uncertain terms, that the anti-consumer actions mandated by Trump appointees will not be tolerated,” Waters said. “I will work hard to ensure that you will once again be fully empowered to perform your duties on behalf of America’s consumers.”

Under Mulvaney’s leadership, CFPB-issued enforcement actions slowed down, political appointees took on senior management roles at the agency and the bureau conducted a comprehensive review of its operations.

Mulvaney also launched a process to reopen the agency's payday lending rule. The proposed overhaul, unveiled recently under current Director Kathy Kraninger, would roll back tough underwriting requirements for small-dollar lenders. The agency has also mandated fewer consumer refunds from financial institutions that are subject to consent orders.

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