- Republican Rep. Dennis Ross ripped the so-called "Dumbledore's Army" at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
- He wrote a letter to acting director Mick Mulvaney blasting the group.
- Ross made a number of Harry Potter-themed references in the letter.
Republican Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida took aim Thursday at the group of employees who have labeled themselves "Dumbledore's Army" in an effort to resist a President Donald Trump-appointed acting director at the top consumer watchdog agency.
In a letter to Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Ross blasted the group as "a group of government employees engaging in fantasy play on the public dime."
The letter, provided to Business Insider, contained a litany of references to the "Harry Potter" children's book series, which is where the "Dumbledore's Army" label originated. Ross even included a Hogwarts watermark on the letter.
"Such an effort would be laughable if it didn't offend the core principles of our great nation," Ross, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, wrote. "Americans expect public servants and federal agencies to abide by the rule of law rather than be enchanted with the authority they have summoned out of thin air. As public servants, CFPB employees must act in a good-faith, transparent manner, rather than attempt to hide their work in some cloak of invisibility."
"Such measures of accountability will help us ensure that the CFPB will engage in regulation based on established law, rather than conjured authority," he added.
The New York Times reported on the existence of the "Dumbledore's Army" group in a Wednesday story. Amid recent turmoil at the agency, several employees formed the group to resist Mulvaney. In the "Harry Potter" series, the army served as a secret resistance force.
"Like you, I believe that a flourishing consumer market requires the empowerment of everyday Americans to choose the financial instruments that best suit their needs, instead of having some wizard pick and choose winners out of a magical sorting hat," Ross wrote to Mulvaney.
How we got here
In his first days on the job, Mulvaney, who is also in charge of the Office of Management and Budget, has moved to rapidly change the agency, which he promised upon taking the reins. The acting director placed a moratorium on the approval of payments to some financial crime victims, froze hiring and all new rules and regulations, and called for a reviews of all active investigations and litigation.
The skirmish over the CFPB's future began the Friday after Thanksgiving when outgoing director Richard Cordray named his deputy, Leandra English, as acting director. Trump then announced Mulvaney as acting director.
Both sides then battled over who had the legal authority to name the successor. Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who championed the creation of the agency, and her allies cited language in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act as proof that Cordray, nominated by President Barack Obama, was in the right, while the Trump administration and its allies said the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act usurps Dodd-Frank.
Dodd-Frank says the bureau's deputy director shall "serve as acting director in the absence or unavailability of the director." The heart of the legal dispute is whether "absence" or "unavailability" in Dodd-Frank means a vacancy, as is the case here.
The general counsel for the CFPB sided with the Trump administration on the matter.
English filed a lawsuit in federal court in which she called herself the "rightful acting director" and sought a temporary restraining order to prevent Mulvaney, who once called the agency a "sick, sad" joke, from fulfilling Trump's appointment. A judge ruled in favor of the Trump administration last week, and the issue is being further litigated.
Mulvaney can serve as acting director until a Trump nomination for the post can be confirmed by the Senate, which could take months.