The Trump administration took down online records about abusive animal breeders, and now they’re considering ending an online complaint database about illegal fees, inaccurate debt collection and other chicanery by banks and other financial institutions.
Mick Mulvaney, who took $55,000 in campaign contributions from the payday-loan industry when he was a South Carolina congressman, told bankers he’s not required in his new job as acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to keep complaints online about dirty bankers.
“I don’t see anything in here that I have to run a Yelp for financial services sponsored by the federal government,” Mulvaney said. “I don’t see anything in here that says I have to make all of those public.”
Eight of the 10 financial institutions with the most complaints in the database made $82,500 in campaign contributions to Mulvaney with political action committees, according to Public Citizen.
- Equifax Inc., with 83,252 complaints, contributed $5,000.
- Bank of America, 74,221, $19,000.
- Experian Information Solutions Inc., 72,188, $6,000.
- Wells Fargo & Co., 62,142, $12,000.
- JP Morgan Chase & Co., 51,139, $10,500.
- Citibank, 41,598, $19,000.
- Capital One Financial Corp., 26,822, $9,000.
- Navient Solutions LLC, 24,243, $2,000.
“The talk of eliminating it fits right in with the Trump administration’s mission to shield companies from accountability,” said writer Russ Kick whose web site, AltGov 2, features government data.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture removed detailed online reports about abusive animal breeders on Feb. 3, 2017, just two weeks after Trump took office. The Humane Society of the United States puts out a list of the worst dog breeders in our nation each year. In this year’s list, the names of about a fourth of the worst breeders are missing because their names aren’t online, and the Trump administration wouldn’t release the names.
The agency also told the Humane Society that it hadn’t revoked any dog breeder licenses in the past year.
“The vast majority of puppy mill licenses still have no name or business name listed on them, so we can see the violations, but not who was responsible for them or exactly where those businesses are located,” said Kathleen Summers who works with the puppy mill campaign at the Humane Society.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking comment on its complaint process, something agencies typically do before making changes.
Paul of Greencastle, Pa., told Consumers Union that the bureau forced Bank of America to refund fees that were caused by debit card charges that were timed to make him overdraft.
Mulvaney is doing his best to prevent the bureau from helping people like Paul. He’s asked Congress to weaken the bureau by giving Congress control of its funding and mandating that the bureau’s major rules need Congressional approval.