Fake News: Adoption of Unfashionable Seal at Consumer Financial Watchdog Did Not Start with Trump Pick to Head Bureau

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Despite numerous media reports that Mick Mulvaney was behind the push to discard the simple logo of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in favor of a more traditional government seal, it was his Democrat predecessor who began the shift.

Here’s how the Los Angeles Times reported the story in April:

Mick Mulvaney’s overhaul of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is so extensive it now could include revising the agency’s name and discarding its simple, modern logo.

Mulvaney, installed as acting director by President Trump last fall, has taken to calling the agency the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection in formal correspondence. Then, last month, his staff unveiled the bureau’s first-ever official seal, which formalized that name, written in full above an eagle with its wings raised over a shield featuring symbols for justice, consumer financial security and transparency.

Consumer advocates worry that the wording change and old-fashioned-looking seal are part of a broader strategy by Mulvaney, an outspoken critic of the agency he now heads, to undermine its mandate by making it sound more bureaucratic and de-emphasizing the word “consumer.”

Got that? According to “consumer advocates,” Mulvaney is so crafty that he was adopting an “old-fashioned looking” seal to undermine the agency. Because what kind of consumer will seek financial protection from an agency with a boring old seal instead of a new, minimalist logo?

It turns out, however, that the idea of adopting an old-fashioned looking symbol was not Mulvaney’s at all. An investigation by Bloomberg’s Jesse Hamilton and Joe Light uncovered its true origins.

But in a surprising twist, it turns out the effort to overhaul the seal was actually initiated by Richard Corday, the Barack Obama-appointed CFPB director who has earned endless praise from Warren and scorn from Republicans. And the seal that Cordray had settled on before he resigned to run for governor of Ohio is very similar to Mulvaney’s selection, according to internal CFPB emails obtained by Bloomberg News through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Presumably, now that consumer advocates know it was Cordray rather than Mulvaney, the great seal panic of 2018 will be put to rest.

Here’s Bloomberg’s illustration of the evolution of the new, old-fashioned symbol :

Richard Cordray began the shift to an old-fashioned seal at the CFPB.


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