Mr. Welcher later acknowledged on the call that the bureau’s leaders had been discussing potential changes to the boards even before seeking public comment, and that “in the final review, nothing changed from the direction we were headed.”
He also described the decision as meant to reduce the bureau’s costs. The three groups collectively cost $1.1 million a year to operate, according to their charters. The agency’s annual budget is around $630 million this year.
Participants on the call countered Mr. Welcher’s explanation forcefully. Kayce M. Bell, Alabama Credit Union’s chief development officer, said that her organization would happily pay her travel costs and expenses for board meetings. Several other callers jumped in to agree, according to the audio recording.
A community banking representative on the call criticized the bureau’s leadership for ousting the group’s members without meeting with them even once.
“The bureau has not fired anyone,” John Czwartacki, a bureau spokesman, said after the call. The agency will meet its legal obligation to convene meetings of the consumer advisory board and current members will be allowed to serve out the year, he said.
The changes to the advisory groups are the latest in a flurry of moves under Mr. Mulvaney’s leadership. He is trying to reduce the bureau’s power and responsibilities, which he has previously complained were too broad.