Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has ousted the 25 members of the agency's Consumer Advisory Board.
According to CNN, the board was told on a conference call Wednesday (June 6) that it would not meet again until new members are appointed.
In addition, members were initially told that they would not be allowed to reapply — but it was later suggested that they could do so in a few years.
The board includes experts on predatory lending, fair housing, legal aid and community development.
While the director of the bureau is required by law to meet twice a year with the panel, Mulvaney had canceled two previously scheduled meetings.
“This is what happens when you put someone in charge of an agency they think shouldn’t exist,” Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said in a statement. “Mick Mulvaney has no intention of putting consumers above financial firms that cheat them.”
The CFPB insisted nobody had been fired, but many see it as another way to weaken the agency, which was formed after the financial crisis of 2008.
“Firing current members of the advisory board is a huge red flag in this administration's ongoing erosion of critical consumer financial protections that help average families,” said Chi Chi Wu, a lawyer at the National Consumer Law Center and member of the board.
Anthony Welcher, policy associate director at the bureau, said roughly 200 applicants were under consideration to fill the positions, adding that the agency was looking to find a diverse group of people.
“It was a smokescreen,” said Kathleen Engel, a research law professor at Suffolk University and another board member. “They were trying to give the impression that we were still members of the CAB and they cared what we thought. But they didn't want to hold any more meetings."
Members of two other boards — the Community Bank Advisory Council and the Credit Union Advisory Council — were similarly dismissed by Mulvaney.