Federal Agency Has Dueling Directors, and One's Suing

Monday is likely to be a chaotic day at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2017 3:34 AM CST
Updated Nov 27, 2017 5:55 AM CST
One of 2 Dueling Consumer Agency Chiefs Files Lawsuit
In this Thursday, July 20, 2017 photo, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney gestures as he speaks during a daily press briefing at the White House.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

Monday is likely to be a chaotic day at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: The federal agency now has two dueling directors, and they both say the law is clearly on their side. Leandra English, who was set to become acting director after the early departure of Richard Cordray, filed a lawsuit Sunday night to block President Trump's appointment of White House budget director Mick Mulvaney to head the agency, the New York Times reports. "The law is clear: Ms. English is acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until the Senate confirms a new director," attorney Deepak Gupta said in a statement. The lawsuit seeks an emergency restraining order against the Trump appointment and a court declaration that English is the agency's director.

The administration is aware of the lawsuit, but "the law is clear: Director Mulvaney is the Acting Director of the CFPB," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday, per CNN. She added that the CFPB's own general counsel agrees with the administration's interpretation of the law, and slammed Cordray for the "stunt" of appointing English as deputy director, which would make her acting director under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that created the agency. The White House says Mulvaney was appointed under a different law, the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. Georgetown law professor Marty Lederman tells the Times that the administration's move is "at the very least, contestable." While serving in Congress, Mulvaney voted to kill the watchdog agency, calling it a "sad, sick joke." (More Consumer Financial Protection Bureau stories.)

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