Mulvaney Ousts CFPB Advisory Panels After Scrapping Meetings

(Bloomberg) -- Members of three outside panels that advise the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on financial-industry abuses say they’ve been fired by acting director Mick Mulvaney, calling the move the Republican’s latest effort to destroy the watchdog.

Participants in the main group, the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board, said in a statement that they learned of their terminations on a call Wednesday. Board members said they were also told that they won’t be allowed to re-apply for positions when the agency reconstitutes the panels.

“Mick Mulvaney is only interested in obtaining views from his inner circle, and has no interest in hearing the perspectives of those who work with struggling American families,” Ann Baddour, the board’s chair, said in the statement.

The consumer bureau disputes the contention that panel members were fired, saying in a statement that the agency plans to convene board meetings and conduct other types of public outreach.

“The bureau has not fired anyone,” John Czwartacki, the agency’s spokesman, said in an emailed statement. “The outspoken members of the Consumer Advisory Board seem more concerned about protecting their taxpayer-funded junkets to Washington, D.C., and being wined and dined by the bureau than protecting consumers.”

The advisory board -- whose members include consumer advocates, academics and former bank executives -- was supposed to meet in Washington this week for one of the twice-yearly meetings required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. Mulvaney canceled the meeting last week, after scrapping another session earlier this year, and told members that he would hold a conference call to update them on future plans for the panels.

Dodd-Frank, which created the consumer bureau, required the creation of several outside advisory panels, including one focused on academic research and another on credit union issues.

Mulvaney, who runs CFPB part-time while also serving as head of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told the board members that his decision to reshuffle the panels was driven by efforts to cut costs across the agency.

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