Former CFPB enforcement attorney: "Publicity potential" guided many regulatory actions


Democrats are racing against the clock to defend the embattled Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has a growing pile of government and judicial scenarios at play trying to overhaul it or abolish it altogether.

The Democrats, along with most op-eds defending the CFPB, defend what the bureau was supposed to be rather than what it became, Ron Rubin, a former CFPB enforcement attorney, argued in a post on the National Review.

So what does the CFPB look like instead of the consumer protection watchdog it was created to be?  

Rubin states in the piece:

A new poll explains why claims that Republicans oppose a popular fictional agency persist after six years. About four in five Americans approve of the bureau’s official anti-fraud mission, while the same proportion has never heard of the CFPB.

Here’s where he breaks it down, according to Rubin, top decisions at the CFPB do not have the consumer’s best interests in mind:

It is even less known that the bureau’s most powerful division is External Affairs, the media spin doctors who are rarely so influential outside of political entities. I observed this perverse hierarchy while working at the CFPB in 2011 and 2012, but I was still shocked recently when a senior bureau official told me that External Affairs often vetoes rulemaking initiatives because they lack sufficient publicity potential.

The main stance that the CFPB has taken, since its constitutionality was called into question, is that is will keep doing its job, enforcing regulations.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray recently voiced his thoughts on the controversy surrounding his job and agency on’s Speakeasy with John Harwood.

When asked if his job is worth fighting for, Cordray responded:

I think that the independence of a consumer watchdog is very much worth fighting for. From the outset there have been, if you ask 10 people, they have 10 different opinions about what’s the right way to do this or to do that. My job is to take the law that has been given me and do the best I can to stand up for people. And that is what we are doing and it’s good work, John. It’s really important work.

But to Rubin, Cordray would do America a better service by resigning from the position altogether.

Take a look at Mary Jo White, the last Securities and Exchange Commission chairperson appointed by President Barak Obama.

White announced back in November 2016 that she planned to leave the SEC at the end of the Obama administration.

Rubin writes:

One sign that the CFPB is not politically independent is the very idea that Cordray would have to be dragged kicking and screaming from office. In the SEC’s 83-year history, its chairpersons, who serve similar five-year terms, have always voluntarily resigned to allow new presidents to choose their replacements. White did so a week after Donald Trump’s election.

As a result, Rubin argues that in order for Cordray to save the bureau, and all his work, from getting torn apart, he should resign, opening the door for President Donald Trump to pick a person of his own choosing. 

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