Battle for control of U.S. consumer finance agency heads to court

PUBLISHED Sun, November 26, 2017 - 9:44pm EST

Leandra English, who was designated to become the acting director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), has a filed a lawsuit to prevent President Donald Trump's pick from taking control of the independent agency. (more)

English, citing the Dodd-Frank Act, argues that she became acting director once the resignation of Richard Cordray became effective at midnight on Friday. The Trump administration, however, argues that the president has the power to name an acting director under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

"As the rightful Acting Director of the Bureau, Ms. English brings this action against President Trump and Mr. Mulvaney seeking a declaratory judgment and, on an emergency basis, a temporary restraining order to prevent the defendants from appointing, causing the appointment of, recognizing the appointment of, or acting on the appointment of an acting director," the lawsuit said.

On Friday evening, Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to take over as acting director. Critics have said that Trump's appointment of a cabinet official is contrary to the spirit of CFPB as an independent agency.

Hours earlier, outgoing CFPB Director Richard Cordray named English to become the bureau's deputy director. English had previously served as the bureau's chief of staff and has in the past worked at the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of Management and Budget.

"The President's attempt to install a White House official at the head of an independent agency - while allowing that official to simultaneously serve in the White House - is unprecedented," said English's lawyer, Deepak Gupta. "The law is clear: Leandra English is Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until the Senate confirms a new Director."

It is unclear what will happen when English and Mulvaney both come in for work on Monday and claim to be the bureau's acting director. But the Reuters news agency, citing sources, said General Counsel Mary McLeod has sided with the Trump administration and will issue a memo to staff to recognize Mulvaney's authority.

  Washington, D.C.     





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