In response to decision that the CFPB’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity will be stripped of key functions, and then placed under the director’s authority:
“Fair Lending is a fundamentally important part of the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and of a financial system that works for families and communities. The Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity needs the authority, the resources, and the connections to key levers of change to do its job,” said Lisa Donner, executive director, Americans for Financial Reform. “These changes, by an improperly appointed acting director, threaten effective enforcement of civil rights laws, and increase the likelihood that people will continue to face discriminatory access and pricing as they navigate their economic lives.”
“Acting Director Mulvaney is taking yet another step to undermine core functions of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “These changes to the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity send a troubling message about the enforcement of civil rights laws and will harm people – especially in communities of color – who are wronged by payday lenders, debt collectors, or auto dealers, among others. Shuffling around an office that has traditionally been run by career civil servants raises concerns that political appointees will interfere with this essential enforcement work. The CFPB was created to protect consumers – but under the Trump administration, it is being transformed to protect powerful corporations instead.”
In the Dodd-Frank law of 2010, Congress mandated the establishment of an Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity at the CFPB, reflecting the longstanding relationship between economic justice and civil rights. It helps enforce the nation’s fair lending laws, principally the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, coordinates with other federal agencies, and reports back to Congress on its work. It derived its strength from being an independent organ within the agency that worked on policy, supervision, enforcement, and education together.
Mick Mulvaney has consistently worked to undermine CFPB’s work in this area, and fair lending/civil rights. While in Congress, he co-sponsored legislation that would have rolled back CFPB’s efforts to fight discrimination in auto lending. While at CFPB, he has announced plans to revise regulations collecting information about fair lending, a key tool in assessing whether discrimination even exists. Now he is stripping the Office of Fair Lending of its supervision and enforcement role, and moving what remains to a personnel office that reports to the director.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, as previously structured, compiled a strong track record of working on behalf of communities of color:
- It developed a strategy for fighting discrimination in auto lending, resulting in settlements that returned $80 million in damages to people ripped off by Ally Financial, along with $18 million from Fifth Third bank.
- It helped resolve, with the Department of Justice, the largest redlining case in history against Hudson City Savings, which paid $33 million for lending assistance and community programs on behalf of majority-Black-and-Hispanic neighborhoods in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
- It assisted in the day-to-day work of supervising the nation’s largest banks, and select other service providers, for compliance with fair lending laws.