Despite being chairman of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mulvaney’s principal interest continues to be the protection of monied interests. Reuters reported on Monday that the CFPB has, under Mulvaney’s direction, stymied a probe of Equifax’s failure to protect sensitive consumer data:
The CFPB has the tools to examine a data breach like Equifax, said John Czwartacki, a spokesman, but the agency is not permitted to acknowledge an open investigation. “The bureau has the desire, expertise, and know-how in-house to vigorously pursue hypothetical matters such as these,” he said.
Three sources say, though, Mulvaney, the new CFPB chief, has not ordered subpoenas against Equifax or sought sworn testimony from executives, routine steps when launching a full-scale probe. Meanwhile the CFPB has shelved plans for on-the-ground tests of how Equifax protects data, an idea backed by [former CFPB head Richard] Cordray.
As Reuters notes, Equifax is being sued by every state attorney general in the country for security failures that led to a massive data breach. Mulvaney’s seeming refusal to allow the CFPB to investigate the matter betrays the CFPB’s original purpose, but as far as betrayals go it’s not much of a plot twist. Donald Trump placed Mulvaney into this job for a reason, which Mulvaney did little to hide before being confirmed. Mulvaney has called the CFPB a “sad, sick joke,” and said, “I don’t like the fact that CFPB exists.” Since taking over, he has declared that the CFPB will no longer “push the envelope,” and would behave with “humility and prudence.”
If the CFPB does allow Equifax to skate, it’ll demonstrate the extent to which the Trump administration is determined to benefit wealthy corporations at the expense of working voters. Just this weekend, The New York Times reported that Mulvaney is viewed as “a white knight” by the payday lending industry, which is experiencing a resurgence under Trump.