CFPB Acting Director Fight Moves to D.C. Circuit Court

By George Khoury, Esq. on January 16, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Deputy Director of the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Leandra English, has not given up her legal fight to become the Acting Director of the CFPB after former Director Richard Cordray stepped down at the end of last year. Prior to stepping down, Cordray promoted English from Chief of Staff to Deputy Director, presumably for the express purpose of ensuring his immediate successor was qualified.

After the district court dismissed her claim to usurp Trump's appointed Acting Director, English filed an emergency appeal up to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In short, English is challenging President Trump's appointment of Mick Mulvaney as the Acting Director, given that she was next in line for the position under a specific provision of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Acting in the Interim

English's case centers on an alleged conflict in the law between Dodd-Frank and the Vacancies Reform Act. Under the VRA, the president is basically given the authority to temporarily fill vacant officer position in the executive branch. Under Dodd-Frank, it provides that the Deputy Directory will serve as Acting Director if the Director is unavailable or absent.

While it is not too surprising that English would want to step up to the task of serving as Acting Director, given that the predecessor Richard Cordray was believed to be on Trump's chopping block, it begs the question of whether English thought she would be able to serve for very long at all in the role. As noted by major media outlets, the CFPB is viewed as one of the prime examples of government overreach by the GOP.

English's emergency appeal explains that the temporary nature of the position requires emergency relief because the longer she has to wait before being able to take the position of Acting Director, the more experience in the role she is being denied.

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