Showdown in Washington
Featured Story, News Roundup, The Latest News

Showdown in Washington

Dueling Directors at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

CFPB’s Richard Cordray and Leandra English

Chaos at consumer bureau. Like antagonists in a banana republic coup, Trump and the exiting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau each named a temporary director for the bureau, starting today. Trump’s pick is budget chief Mick Mulvaney. Former director Richard Cordray, who left the bureau on Friday after six years, said former chief-of-staff Leandra English would become deputy director.

The bureau could go for months without a permanent director to oversee its 1,600 employees. The job requires Senate confirmation.

Cordray cited the 2010 Dodd-Frank law in naming his interim replacement. White House officials cited the Federal Vacancies Reform Act to back up Trump appointing Mulvaney.


Unsurprisingly, Trump’s Justice Department interpreted the law to favor Trump’s appointment. English sued Trump Sunday night to try to block Mulvaney from taking over. Republicans loathe Cordray and the bureau and have campaigned to oust him and weaken the bureau.

The bureau’s top lawyer sided with the Justice Department. In a memorandum obtained by Politico, CFPB general counsel Mary McLeod said Trump had the legal authority to name an acting director. “It is my legal opinion that the president possesses the authority to designate an acting director for the bureau,” McLeod wrote in a Nov. 25 memo to the CFPB leadership.

The end of Time. Meredith Corp., the Des Moines-based publisher of Better Homes & Gardens, has struck a deal to buy Time Inc. with financial backing from the right-wing, libertarian Koch brothers. Meredith has agreed to pay $18.50 a share in cash for Time Inc., the New York publisher of Fortune, People and Sports Illustrated. The deal is valued at $2.8 billion and includes assuming Time’s debt. The company had $1.2 billion in long-term debt and $332 million of cash as of Sept. 30.

This is at least the third time Meredith has tried to buy Time, the celebrated magazine publisher that Henry R. Luce helped found in 1922. The deal includes about $600 million from a private-equity unit of the Koch brothers’ Koch Industries, and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018.

Charles and David Koch have long sought to manipulate public opinion but have never owned their own media company. Meredith said Koch Equity Development would not have a seat on Meredith’s board and would “have no influence” on Meredith’s editorial or managerial operations.

Exodus. More than 200,000 people could leave Puerto Rico in the year after the hurricane. By 2019, that figure could approach a half-million people or about 14% of the island’s population. Many who left Puerto Rico described an existence that had been stripped down to its basics, their days spent collecting food, water and fuel. Florida has seen the biggest influx of Puerto Ricans, who could reshape the state’s demographics and perhaps its politics. About 5.4 million Puerto Ricans are on the mainland, compared to about 3.3 million on the island. The territory’s economy has been crippled by a decade-long recession and a debt crisis that forced the island to declare a form of bankruptcy this year. “Our first-world mask has been ripped off,” said Aurelys Alers-Ortiz. “Now, we’re third world.”

November 27, 2017