Seth Frotman was the watchdog for America’s $1.5 trillion student loan marketplace, an essential role created to protect students and military servicemembers from predatory loans.
The student loan ombudsman at the federal government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dramatically resigned from his post on Monday, August 27 accusing the Trump White House of systematically weakening protections against predatory loaners.
“You have used the bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America,” Frotman wrote in a letter to Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney.
“The damage you have done to the bureau betrays these families and sacrifices the financial futures of millions of Americans in communities across the country.”
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.
The White House downgraded his ability to protect vulnerable students and families.
In 2017, Mulvaney was given the additional power to oversee CFPB, which many critics said was a direct contradiction to the office set up in 2011 explicitly to protect Americans from financial entities that may not have their best interests in mind.
Then, in May of 2018, Mulvaney announced he was downgrading Frotman’s authority from one with enforcement capabilities to an “educational” section of the CFPB.
Even worse, Frotman accused Mulvaney and the White House of covering up a report from his office that he says revealed how some of these institutions were granting predatory loans to students.
“At every turn, your political appointees have silenced warnings by those of us tasked with standing up for servicemembers and students,” he wrote in his letter.
Frotman's letter was both welcomed by financial watchdogs but also a said testament to where we're at in terms of accountability and decency in our federal government.
His resignation is another huge loss for American institutions. But it also shows people of good faith and governance have their limits.
If you have a student loan, or may need one in the future, there are still helpful resources that can be used to avoid predatory lenders.
With so many of America’s basic institutions under attack, it’s important to have people like Seth Frotman standing up for what’s right.
It’s the only way we’ll get back to having a country where such basic, fundamental functions of our democracy are once again taken for granted instead of being used as tools by the financial and politically elite for personal gain.