Mick Mulvaney struck a jovial tone as he introduced the political appointees who would run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. One was nicknamed Dreamboat, he said in an email. Another was Mumbles. A third had been a “Jeopardy!” contestant.
“They are really great people,” Mulvaney, the acting director, wrote in a holiday message to the agency’s 1,600 staffers last December.
The levity now seems like a cruel joke to career officials.
One year after Mulvaney’s arrival, he and his political aides have constrained the agency from within, achieving what conservatives on Capitol Hill had for years been unable to do, according to agency data and interviews with career officials.
Publicly announced enforcement actions by the bureau have dropped about 75 percent from average in recent years, while consumer complaints have risen to new highs, according to a Washington Post analysis of bureau data.
Over the past year, the agency’s workforce has dropped by at least 129 employees amid the largest exodus since its creation in 2010, agency data shows.
Created by Congress to protect Americans from financial abuses, the bureau under Mulvaney has adopted the role of promoting “free markets” and guarding the rights of banks and financial firms as well as those of consumers, according to statements by Mulvaney and bureau documents.
Much has been written about Mulvaney’s leadership. This story provides an inside look at one of the Trump administration’s signature successes: how Mulvaney and a team of political appointees used the levers of government to hinder career employees and roll back oversight of private industry. It is based on scores of internal emails and other documents reviewed by The Post, along with interviews with two dozen current and recent employees.
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