Big salaries for political appointees at agency where Mulvaney pledged to cut costs

The revelations clash with Mulvaney's reputation as an anti-spending hawk.

But as he prepares to testify before two congressional committees Wednesday and Thursday, he will likely get questioned about big salaries approved for top political appointees at a bureau he once wanted to abolish and whose operating costs he pledged to cut.

At least eight non-career employees have been hired since Mulvaney took over the post in November 2017. Five of those eight new hires earn an annual salary that exceeds the amount available to most political appointees, which in 2018 is $164,200, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

Three other political appointees hired by Mulvaney are also earning the same amount as Mork, per Mulvaney’s letter.

“This request – or lack thereof – will serve to reduce the federal deficit by the amount that the Bureau might have requested under different leadership,” he wrote. “The men and women at the Bureau are proud to do their part to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

Mulvaney also took on the CFPB repeatedly as a member of Congress, including co-sponsoring legislation that would eliminate the bureau altogether. In 2014, he was quoted as calling the CFPB “a wonderful example of how a bureaucracy will function if it has no accountability to anybody,” noting that Congress does not have the appropriate oversight of the bureau.

He added that “some of us” would like to scrap the agency altogether and proposed, short of that, to bring more transparency to the organization.

The CFPB blamed Mulvaney’s predecessor in the director role, Rob Cordray, for implementing the policies governing salaries for senior CFPB leadership. A bureau spokesperson also put the onus on Congress to change the bureau’s pay practices.

“Acting Director Mulvaney would be happy to work with members of Congress on legislative changes to the Bureau that would address the Bureau’s structure and compensation practices,” the spokesperson said.

Cordray is now running for governor in the state of Ohio. His campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Since joining the Trump administration, Mulvaney has had to defend policies that would have been anathema to him as a founding member of the conservative, anti-spending House Freedom Caucus – something ABC White House correspondent Jon Karl asked him about when Mulvaney was defending the budget-busting $1.3 billion omnibus spending bill last month.

“There's gonna be a bunch of folks who will vote against this for a bunch of different reasons,” he said, neglecting to mention he may have been one of them if he were not the president’s budget chief.