Senator seeks review of English’s CFPB appointment

by Francis Monfort09 Jan 2018
A senator is seeking a review of Leandra English’s conversion from a senior political appointee at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to a career position at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in January 2017.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., wrote a letter to Special Counsel Henry Kerner of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) saying a review of English’s appointment within the CFPB adhered to the merit system principles. Johnson is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Temporary leadership of the consumer bureau is under legal dispute between given the conflicting claims of English and Mick Mulvaney, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in an acting capacity.

Johnson’s letter to the OSC follows a document production from the OPM that raised concerns of possible abuse of the conversion process by English and the CFPB.

“According to information provided by OPM, it appears that OPM hastily approved Ms. English’s conversion in the waning days of the Obama Administration based on information that included errors, potential conflicts of interest, and insufficient independent verification,” Johnson said in the letter.

Citing information provided by OPM Acting Director Kathleen McGettigan in response to his earlier letter, Johnson said English’s conversion demonstrated a flawed vetting process. The letter enumerated the following issues: selection outside of the announced timeline; OPM hastily vetted and approved conversion; OPM did not correct inaccurate documentation about the CFPB position prior to approval; substantially similar duties between the two positions; potential conflict of interest in the selection process; and that OPM did not independently verify CFPB representations.

“Conversions—also known as ‘burrowing’—is a practice in which a non-career, political appointee converts to a career position outside of competitive hiring processes,” Johnson wrote in the letter. “Burrowing threatens to undermine the merit-based principles that serve as the foundation of the civil service because it allows political staff to be favored over potentially more qualified candidates. The Office of Special Counsel is charged with investigating hiring decisions based on political affiliation, which is a violation of civil service laws.”

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