On Tuesday night, Donald Trump stood before the nation and boasted about the lowest unemployment rate on record for African-Americans. But just hours before his State of the Union address, his lieutenant and handpicked head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney, told staff in an email that he was seizing control of the unit responsible for policing anti-lending-discrimination laws.
CFPB Acting Director Mulvaney, in a previously unreported move, said that he would be putting the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, or OFLEO, under his direct control, startling consumer protection and civil rights advocates, and raising concerns that the office would be unable to carry out its mission — and that, indeed, that was the very purpose of the shift.
“Opening up the floodgates on lending discrimination will damage the ability for people of color to build wealth,” said Debbie Goldstein, executive vice president of the Center for Responsible Lending.
The entire point of Congress mandating OFLEO in Dodd-Frank was to ensure that racial discrimination and fair lending cases would have a baseline level of resources and support at the CFPB. By splitting the agency, financial reform advocates say, Mulvaney is deemphasizing what Congress had defined as a top priority.