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    Dumbledore's Army: Bureaucrats Mistake CFPB for Hogwarts

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    Related Posts - What the Heck Is Happening at the CFPB? (Published: 3 December 2017). 

    VLOG Text:

    Hello, y'all – Another Day, Another Government Agency finding Inspiration in Young Adult Fiction.

    Today, is the 12th of December. I'm Carly Souther, the COO of iTrain OnDemand, and I'm hear to give you a quick breakdown of the ongoing shenanigans at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

    Last week, I wrote about the struggle for power between CFPB Deputy Director and Trump-appointed Director Mick Mulvaney. About two weeks ago, federal judge Tim Kelly ruled that Mulvaney can lead the Bureau… for now. You can read about that ongoing legal battle in an earlier blog post. 

    Since being named Acting Director, Mulvaney placed a 30-day moratorium on all agency hiring, regulation, rulemaking, and consumer payouts. This freeze means the Bureau's $10M fine against Santander bank for illegal overdraft practices is up in the air, as is the Agency's lawsuit against Navient, a student-loan servicer. There are, of course, dozens of additional enforcement actions that will remain on pause until, at least, the start of the New Year. Nonetheless, Mulvaney insists that he is not attempting to gut the agency.

    This moratorium, as well as Mulvaney's earlier hostility to the CFPB – at one point he co-sponsored legislation that would have led to the agency's abolition - has reportedly infuriated a group of middle-level CFPB bureaucrats, who have gone rogue to form "Dumbledore's Army."

    The group's name is, of course, an homage to the secret resistance force in the Harry Potter series. In the fifth novel, the young wizards at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry create Dumbledore's Army when their beloved headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, is removed on dubious charges, and replaced by the Ministry of Magic's appointee – Dolores Umbridge. The young heroes form their secret group to defy and undermine the overbearing, power-hungry Umbridge… and, of course, they eventually succeed.

    The New York Times publically outted this insurgency last week, reporting that "[a]n atmosphere of intense anxiety has taken hold, several employees said. In some cases, conversations between staff that used to take place by phone or text now happen almost exclusively in person or through encrypted messaging apps."

    Cause of Action Institution, a conservative group, has since filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Agency, requesting all communications that contain the words “Dumbledore,” “Dumbledore’s Army,” “Snape,” “Voldemort,” “He-who-shall-not-be-named,” “encrypted message,” or “encrypted messaging.” 

    And, there is a point to this request. One of the main purposes of the CFPB was to promote transparency in consumer protection regulatory actions. If these employees are communicating via encrypted messages then they are violating the Federal Records Act, which requires all work-related messages to be preserved. By actively concealing messages, Dumbledore's Army is undermining the very principle they allegedly hold dear: Government Transparency. These unelected bureaucrats – who are operating on their own authority – think they can do a better job for Americans despite not having any accountable to us - this is the pinnacle of pretention.

    We'll track this Freedom of Information Act request and keep you updated.

    Nevertheless, It will be interesting to see if Dumbledore's Army disbands when President Trump announces a nominee for CFPB Director, which he is expected to do in early 2018. After being confirmed by the Senate, the candidate will serve a 5-year fixed term as the Bureau's Director.

    And I'll leave you will one final odd fact this Monday, the creation of Dumbledore's Army marks the second time in 2017 that disgruntled Democrats and bureaucrats have named movements after children's allegories. You've heard of the Resistance, right? Well, that name comes from the latest Star Wars movie.

    This has been a bizarre year, and if this trend of borrowing from children's stories to define political positions continues, it will only get weirder. 

    If you hear mid-level White House staff banding together as "The Babysitters Club" or climate change advocates referring to themselves as "Captain Planet and the Planeteers" don't be surprised when you didn't read it in The Onion. Unfortunately, it's probably NOT satire. 

     

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