Mick Mulvaney, the CFPB and a “thing”

 Warning:  Coarse language, because we may get a lot of snow in Chicago but we’re no snowflakes.

Last week I went to an American Bankers Association Conference for bank government relations executives.

I wrote a story about some things that Mick Mulvaney, the interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (and also a cabinet member director of the Office of Management and Budget) said in a 26 minute speech.

Mulvaney: CFPB doesn’t have to run a ‘Yelp’ for bank customers

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau acting director Mick Mulvaney told a large crowd of bankers gathered in Washington that he doesn’t have to run a “Yelp for financial services, sponsored by the federal government.”

Mulvaney’s remark, delivered to the American Bankers Association, got lots of chuckles and then huge applause when he added that, in particular, he doesn’t see anything in the Dodd-Frank law that created the CFPB that requires “the Bureau,” as he prefers to call the agency, to make a database of complaints against the banks available to the public.

I also caught him afterward for some followup on a recent $1 billion fine that his agency and the OCC imposed on Wells Fargo recently.

Mulvaney’s first fine at CFPB is second-largest in history of agency

This is not the first time the CFPB has fined Wells Fargo. In 2016 the CFPB imposed a $100 million penalty for what it said was the multi-year, systemic, illegal practice of opening unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts. The activity was the result, according to the CFPB consent order, of a culture at Wells Fargo of establishing aggressive sales targets and compensation incentives that encouraged employees to pump up sales by secretly opening more than two million accounts. Wells Fargo was ordered to pay full restitution to all victims in addition to the fine.

Mulvaney said a lot of things in that 26 minutes that were newsworthy and quotable.

Here’s a full recording of the speech.


I asked a question after the speech, out in the lobby, sticking my iPhone tape recorder in his face like Clark Kent:

MarketWatch asked Mulvaney after his speech on Tuesday how the agency came up with this $1 billion fine. “We’re not going to comment on the Wells Fargo fine.”

When asked if there was a formula or a template used to avoid the controversy the agency had with the earlier fine, he didn’t elaborate,

“You keep asking me the same question, you’re going to get the same answer. No comment,” said Mulvaney, who then walked away.

But the thing he said that eventually caught everyone’s eye came in the last 2 minutes. It was so provocative, in some circles, that I had to write another story about it the next day.  But, first, I had to try to talk some folks down on Twitter later that night.

So, being from Chicago and Illinois, I was not that surprised or concerned about this anecdote.  But many, many went ballistic on this:

My very strong feeling is that the money-quote everyone pounced on was taken out of context and blown up out of proportion. Whatever Mulvaney did in the past in Congress should not be your biggest concern if you are worried about corruption now.


So, I will be monitoring the twenty-five pending enforcement actions, instead, and wait to see how and when those get resolved.

As former Governor Rod Blagojevic said, that’s what’s “golden” here.

Just sayin’.