The acting director blamed his successor, agency’s budgetary independence for high salaries.
Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Mick Mulvaney gave exorbitant pay raises to aides he hired to help run the agency, the Associated Press reported.
According to salary records obtained by the AP through an information request, Mulvaney, who splits time between leading CFPB and the Office of Management and Budget, has hired at least eight people for politically appointed posts at the agency since he took over last fall. Of them, four now make $259,500 per year, and another makes $239,595, more than Cabinet secretaries and a number of other staff in high-level government jobs.
Although the highest base salary available to most of the federal workforce is $134,776, CFPB is an independent agency under the umbrella of the Federal Reserve, which has a waiver to hire employees with in-demand expertise and skillsets.
According to the AP, Kirsten Mork, Mulvaney’s chief of staff at CFPB, made $167,300 when she worked as a staffer on the House Financial Services Committee. She now makes more than $250,000. Her predecessor, Leandra English, who briefly fought unsuccessfully to lead the agency, had a starting salary of $212,324.
While in Congress, Mulvaney railed against the CFPB. In his current post he has pledged to draw down the agency’s surplus funds rather than request funding from the Federal Reserve, and as OMB director, Mulvaney proposed through the White House’s fiscal 2019 budget request that the agency receive limited funding from the Federal Reserve. Congress would eventually be responsible for determining its funding levels.
The news comes just days after Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt came under fire for reportedly giving substantial raises to two of his top aides against the White House's wishes. The aides eventually received the salary increases through an obscure provision of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act, although Pruitt denied knowledge of the decision and said he reversed it.
On Monday, The Atlantic reported that an internal EPA email appears to contradict Pruitt’s claims, as one of the aides specifically said her pay raise was authorized by the administrator. The Office of Government Ethics called some of the other recent allegations against Pruitt “extremely concerning,” although it did not weigh in on the pay raises.
At CFPB, a spokesperson defended Mulvaney’s salary decisions in a statement to the AP, blaming former Director Richard Cordray for elevated compensation.
“[Non-career] staff are being paid on par with the career staff who directly report to them,” CFPB said.