Mick Mulvaney, whose ability to direct the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is still an open legal question, told the agency Thursday afternoon that he plans to bring in six loyalists from the Trump administration, according to agency sources, as well as a review of a memo Mulvaney circulated.
The new staff will include John Czwartacki, who does public relations for the Office of Management and Budget, which Mulvaney also leads. Czwartacki will now do the same job at the CFPB, which, by statute, is supposed to be an independent agency that was created in the aftermath of the 2007-08 financial crisis.
Emma Doyle, Mulvaney’s chief of staff, will also be on detail to the CFPB, as will James Galkowski, a special assistant to Mulvaney at the agency. (Mulvaney helpfully noted to the staff that he is “known by his last name, ‘Galkowski.'”)
Eric Blankenstein, a lawyer coming from the Office of the United States Trade Representative, is also part of the new team, as is Brian Johnson, a staffer at the House Financial Services Committee, chaired by hard-line CFPB opponent Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas.
Sheila Greenwood, an official at Ben Carson’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, has also been detailed to the CFPB, Mulvaney told the staff.
Greenwood, Johnson, and Blankenstein will work at the CFPB on a full-time basis. The others will, like Mulvaney, split their time between the agency and their jobs in the Trump administration.
President Donald Trump named Mulvaney as acting director of the CFPB despite the succession plan set up by Congress, which would have the deputy director assume the duties in the case of a vacancy. Leandra English, who was deputy under former CFPB Director Richard Cordray, has challenged Trump’s appointment in court. Mulvaney’s proposal earlier this month to embed political staffers throughout the agency was met with an uproar.
The president won the first round of the legal battle, but the case remains pending, and Trump’s continuing takeover of the agency leaves little room to continue to call it independent. Aside from his own deputy running it, he has himself weighed in publicly on fines.
Fines and penalties against Wells Fargo Bank for their bad acts against their customers and others will not be dropped, as has incorrectly been reported, but will be pursued and, if anything, substantially increased. I will cut Regs but make penalties severe when caught cheating!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 8, 2017
It’s doubtful that major banks would look so favorably on a future Democratic president — say, CFPB founder Elizabeth Warren — weighing in publicly on matters before the powerful agency or installing a Cabinet member as acting director. But the precedent is now set, at least until the courts weigh in.