Watchdog Calls for Probe of CFPB Official at Center of Agency Leadership Fight
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
FACT Maintains Leandra English Abused Government Resources for Personal Gain,
Inappropriately Accepted Cash Gifts to Fund Her Personal Lawsuit
Washington, D.C.—April 24, 20178-The non-partisan ethics watchdog group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), today, filed a complaint with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and the Office of the Inspector General of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) against CFPB Deputy Director Leandra English. The complaint maintains that Ms. English abused taxpayer resources by misusing government paid time to work on her personal lawsuit against President Trump and CFPB Acting Director, Mick Mulvaney. This also brings into question whether she was doing work commensurate with her salary. FACT is also asking the OGE and CFPB OIG to investigate whether English may have violated ethics rules with respect to federal employees accepting cash gifts.
Since filing her lawsuit last year challenging President Trump’s decision to appoint Mick Mulvaney as CFPB Acting Director, public reports have come to light suggesting that Leandra English not only “rarely shows up” for work, or shows up “from time to time,” she may also be using government time to work on her lawsuit. According to the complaint, “English’s work calendar has included numerous meetings with individuals and organizations that have filed amicus briefs in support of her lawsuit.” Since ethics laws clearly requires government employees to actually perform work commensurate with the salary paid, there is evidence to suggest that she is not doing the work of someone getting paid $217,845.
The suit also asks for an investigation into whether Ms. English violated gift rules pertaining to federal employees. According to the complaint, “there is no law that directly permits the establishment of a fund to pay for the costs of legal action, let alone one for personal or political lawsuits.” And, while the OGE has released advisory opinions in the past with respect to a legal defense fund, Ms. English’s suit is not a legal defense fund, but a personal lawsuit that is politically based and motivated (The Acting Director position is a political appointment). Therefore “any gift given to fund her lawsuit would be a prohibited “gift given because of the employee’s official position,” the complaint maintains.
“The picture that is emerging about Leandra English’s job function at the CFPB is a troubling one because we know so little about it, including the 5 weeks she spent in San Francisco without explanation,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). “Furthermore, ethics laws pertaining to government employment and the acceptance of gifts exist to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used appropriately and that public officials are not exploiting their official capacity for personal gain. Leandra English seems to be flaunting these rules on both fronts.”
FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/.