In a letter to Leandra English and Mick Mulvaney, Senator Elizabeth Warren calls the freeze imposed by Mr. Mulvaney on the CFPB’s collection of personally identifiable information (PII) “unjustified.” (Not surprisingly, Senator Warren’s letter is addressed to Ms. English as “Acting [CFPB] Director” and to Mr. Mulvaney as “Director” of OMB.)
We previously reported that, in connection with assisting clients to prepare for CFPB exams, we had learned that the freeze was impacting the flow of information to CFPB examiners. In fact, Senator Warren cites to our blog post in her letter. Despite her strong support for harsher action against industry for its alleged failure to adequately protect PII, Senator Warren attacks Mr. Mulvaney for his efforts to protect PII, claiming that they have “undermined the agency’s work in both the short and long term.”
Senator Warren also claims that her staff has been told that CFPB enforcement lawyers “have been banned from reviewing electronic evidence they obtain in discovery.” According to Senator Warren, such evidence “is reportedly not being loaded onto CFPB systems, preventing the enforcement team from completing investigations and bringing cases.”
Referencing reports that the freeze was prompted by shortcomings in the CFPB’s data security systems discussed in reports of the Office of Inspector General, Senator Warren claims that Mr. Mulvaney has “inappropriately used the reports as a prextext to halt and weaken critical agency functions.” In her view, the IG reports “demonstrate that the agency’s cybersecurity policies are robust and any problems with them are not nearly serious enough to support the action Director Mulvaney has taken.”
Senator Warren concludes her letter with a list of questions to which she asks for responses by January 18. She also asks for her staff to be briefed about the freeze no later than January 12.