THE LAWYER WHO wrote the Office of Legal Counsel memo supporting the Trump administration’s viewpoint that the president can appoint Mick Mulvaney as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau represented a payday lender in front of the CFPB last year.
Steven A. Engel wrote the memo for OLC, which has been criticized by academics for seeking a conclusion and working backward to justify it. “Let’s be honest, this is an argument where you get the answer, and then you go to the other side of the equation,” said former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., a lead author of the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB. Engel was confirmed as an assistant attorney general earlier this month by a voice vote in the Senate.
But in July 2015, Engel was one of two lead counsels for NDG Financial Corp., a Canadian payday lender that CFPB cited for running a nine-year scheme to use its foreign status to offer U.S. customers high-cost loans that were at odds with state and federal law. “We are taking action against the NDG Enterprise for collecting money it had no right to take from consumers,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray at the time. Engel was active in the case up until August of this year.