Credit Union vs. Trump ‘power grab’

The Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union is located on the ground floor of 37 Avenue B, at E. Third St. Last year, due to a dispute over the amount of rent the credit union was paying, residential tenants hung banners on the side of the building. Villager file photo

BY REBECCA FIORE | The Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union is suing President Donald Trump and White House employee Mick Mulvaney, who Trump recently — and illegally, according to the credit union — appointed director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The C.F.P.B. is an independent government agency created in response to the 2008 financial crisis and recession. In 2010, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The law’s purpose is to protect Americans from unfair and abusive financial practices, such as overcharging people with high-interest-rate loans.

According to the Dodd-Frank Act, the president, “with the advice and consent of the Senate,” appoints the director of C.F.B.P. Additionally, the bureau’s deputy director, appointed by the director, takes over as acting director in the “absence or unavailability of the director.”

The bureau’s former director, Richard Cordray, announced his resignation Nov. 24. Deputy Director Leandra English was appointed as acting director that same day, until Trump appointed Mulvaney a few hours later, according to court papers.

Ilann Maazel, a partner at the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, who filed the lawsuit Monday on behalf of the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union, said this is a case about maintaining the rule of law.

“It’s just an illegal power grab,” he said. “It’s unlawful, it’s unprecedented and Mr. Mulvaney should not be in that role. Trump, through Mulvaney, will be controlling the agency that is supposed to be independent of Trump.”

Mulvaney, who has previously called the agency a “sick, sad joke,” is also the current director of the Office of Management and Budget. On. Nov. 28 a federal judge denied English’s request to block the president’s appointee. English has since appealed.

Linda Levy, C.E.O. of the L.E.S.P.F.C.U., which is located at E. Third St. and Avenue B, said they are asking for Trump to remove Mulvaney and allow English to take charge.

“For people who are strong consumer activists, there was a lot of dismay,” Levy said. “People were unhappy because Mulvaney had been on record already saying he didn’t believe in the agency, that he didn’t think it should be in existence.”

Levy said this counters the purpose of the C.F.P.B. and that Mulvaney is an at-will employee of the president.

“He has to do what the president asks him to do,” she said.

“It is in our interest to have C.F.B.P. protect all of us,” attorney Maazel said. “We don’t want to go back to 2008.”