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Trump administration battling secret Harry Potter army at consumer bureau

Longtime staffers are starting a secret resistance.
Mick Mulvaney CFPB Harry Potter
Photo: Getty Images

There's a war brewing at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Harry Potter has gotten roped into it.

After Obama-appointed agency head Richard Cordray resigned last month, President Trump appointed budget chief Mick Mulvaney to lead the organization he wanted to abolish as a senator. Staffers of the agency were not super-jazzed about that move, especially because a judge dismissed a lawsuit by the deputy director who claimed the position was hers by law.

So they've turned to the dark side, the New York Times reports. A group of CFPB staffers are resisting Mulvaney's changes and calling themselves "Dumbledore's Army," after the secret resistance group in the Harry Potter books.

But a conservative group is not amused. After getting wind of the Times report, the Cause of Action Institute filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all correspondence containing the words “Dumbledore,” “Dumbledore’s Army,” “Snape,” “Voldemort,” “he-who-shall-not-be-named,” “encrypted message,” or “encrypted messaging.” In the request, the group wrote that they're “concerned that these individuals may be using the encrypted messaging applications to avoid transparency laws in an effort to conceal their communications from internal and external oversight.”


It's unclear what of Mulvaney's agenda the staffers have been successfully able to thwart, however. Arguing that the CFPB is unfair to corporations, conservatives have been agitating for the agency — which was established in 2010 to protect consumers from being exploited by banks, lenders and other financial companies — to be brought to heel almost since its creation. Since then, the bureau has obtained $12 billion in refunds and canceled $29 billion of consumer debt. Upon taking the top job, Mulvaney has instituted a hiring freeze, paused any further rulemaking and ordered a review of pending lawsuits. He ordered all payments to victims of financial crimes stopped, before reversing himself two days later.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, a prolific and loudly progressive tweeter, hasn't weighed in yet. Considering that Mulvaney once called the bureau a "sick, sad" example of out-of-control bureaucracy, Dumbledore's Army could probably use all the reinforcements it can get.

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