Newswire : Harvard study: Black men sentenced to longer prison terms after being convicted of the same crimes as white men

By Frederick H. Lowe, Blackman’sStreet

Federal prisoners by race. Source: Federal Bureau of Prison

Republican-appointed judges on the federal bench sentence Black men to longer prison terms compared with white men convicted of the same crime, according to a study by the Harvard Law School.

The report also found that Black judges impose shorter sentences on average than non-Black judges.

However, in Chicago, where the first African-American judge was appointed to federal bench in 1961, there hasn’t been a Black man on the federal bench since 2012, Crain’s Chicago Business reported in January 2016. James Benton Parsons was appointed to bench by President John F. Kennedy.

The study “Judicial Politics and Sentencing Decisions,” reported that the racial disparity in sentencing decisions contributes to the fact that black defendants comprise a disproportionate fraction of the prison population relative to their percentage of the overall population.” The Federal Bureau of Prisons reported Saturday, May 26, that blacks comprised 37.8 percent of the prison population. Blacks comprise 13 percent of the U.S. population.

Over 95 percent of criminal convictions result from guilty pleas. Once a plea deal is reached and accepted by the judge, the judge schedules sentencing.

Black offenders were sentenced to 4.8 months more in prison compared to similar non-black offenders, reported the study of Republican – and Democratic-appointed federal judges.

Prison sentences have grown for federal inmates from 17.9 months in 1988 to 37.5 months in 2012 for violent, property, drug, public order, weapon and immigration crimes, according to Pew Research Center.

In comparison, women offenders receive 12.1 fewer months in prison compared to male offenders. Defendants withchildren are sentenced to longer terms in prison than defendants with fewer dependents.

To arrive at its findings, researchers at Harvard Law School studied the sentencing data of more than 546,916 federal defendants linked to federal judges. Harvard studied defendants sentenced between 1999 and 2015 and they observed the sentencing practices of approximately 1,400 unique judges.

“Male defendants are sentenced to substantially longer time in prison than female defendants even after accounting for arrest offense and criminal history,” the report said.
There are 677 authorized federal judgeships in 94 district courts as of 2017, Harvard reported. Most of the districts have between two and seven authorized judgeships.

At Forkland Town Hall Meeting: Terri Sewell says she is part of a nine member Congressional Commission on the USMCA (NAFTA 2.0) Trade agreement

Congresswoman Sewell surrounded by young people who attended her Town Hall meeting in Forkland, Alabama

On Saturday, July 13, 2019, Congresswoman Terri Sewell held a “Congress in Your Community” meeting at the Forkland Town Hall, attended by more than 50 community residents.
As part of her report, Congresswoman Sewell announced that she was appointed by Speaker Pelosi, to a special nine member commission, to review the U.S. Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (also known as NAFTA 2.0) before its ratification by Congress. Sewell said, “ I will soon be traveling to Mexico City for discussions on this new trade agreement.

I want to be sure American workers are protected with labor and environmental standards.” She said she was particularly concerned about Trump’s proposed tariffs on automobile parts, which would drive up automobile prices and could reduce the American workforce in states like Alabama.
On healthcare, Sewell said she was supporting improvements to the existing Affordable Care Act by reducing deductibles and premiums, including for pharmaceutical drug prices. She says she strongly supports Medicaid Expansion, which Alabama’s Republican Governor and Legislature have refused to adopt. “Due to partisan politics state officials have left $7 billion over ten years on the table to be used by other states,” says Sewell.
Sewell said she was concerned that Republican controlled states were suing in Federal courts to declare the ACA unconstitutional. “This will mean that 1.9 million Alabamians would loose their protection for pre-existing conditions and almost 200,000 would loose their healthcare insurance coverage all together,” said Sewell.
She and Senator Doug Jones have introduced legislation to incentivize states to pursue Medicaid Expansion, but this legislation is tied up in committee because none of the 14 states remaining, who have not agreed to Medicaid Expansion, have indicated interest in changing their positions, “If Alabama wants to adopt Medicaid Expansion, we may be able to get this legislation passed,” said Sewell.
Congresswoman Sewell said she was prepared to vote for an increase in the Federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, adopted ten years ago in 2009, to $15 an hour in stages over the next five years. “ Workers have lost 18% in purchasing power over the past decade. This bill will give 45% of Alabamians a pay raise! While I proposed a regional minimum wage, which would be more equitable and help small businesses to be competitive, I will be voting for this bill,” says the Congresswoman.
Sewell said her bill (HR4) the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which restores the preclearance provisions stripped from the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court’s Shelby vs. Holder decision, will soon be voted on and passed by the House of Representatives. The bill would create an updated formula to qualify states for preclearance for voting rights changes.”14 states would be qualified under the new formula for modern day voting rights violations since 1990, “ says Sewell.
“Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the Senate and his colleagues will not allow a vote on any of the progressive legislation, we have passed in the House of Representatives. The voters in 2020 will have to act to change this deadlock,” said Sewell.
The Congresswoman took questions from the audience, posed for photos with many constituents and spoke with officials of the Town of Forkland before leaving Greene County.

Greene County Commission agrees to sell park to Town of Forkland

The Greene County Commission held its regular meeting on Monday July 8, 2019 at 6:00 PM at the William B. Branch Courthouse. Four of the five commissioners were present, Ms. Roshonda Summerville was absent.
The Commission voted to approve sale of the Forkland Park to the Town of Forkland for fair market value. In the public comments section, Joe Tuck, Forkland City Council member said, “ On behalf of the Town of Forkland, we want to thank the Commissioners for agreeing to sell us the Forkland Park. We intend to do a good job in fixing up and running the park for the people in and around Forkland.”
Mayor Charlie McAlpine of Forkland, who also attended the Commission meeting, said to this reporter at the end of the meeting, “We will work with the Commission, to get an appraisal of the park, so we can establish the fair market value and complete the purchase for the residents.”
The Commission received a financial report for the month of June 2019, from CFO Paula Bird, which showed bank deposits of $5,734,247 in local banks and $933,776 in sinking funds for bond payment and $955,253 in other bond funds in the Bank of New York. Bond funds were used to build the Courthouse and jail.
Ms. Bird also explained that we were at the 75% point in the Commission’s fiscal year and most agencies spending were within this range. Those agencies with spending more than 75% of their budgets had clear explanations for the over spending. Commissioner Brown warned that if the Sheriff’s Department had overtime exceeding its budget then other budgetary adjustments would need to be made within the limits of the total budget.
Ms. Bird reported that $566,992 in claims had been paid for the month of June and an additional $76,466 had been paid in electronic payments on obligations.
The Commission allowed the County Engineer to solicit bids for temperature control at the Courthouse; advertise and hire a driver for the solid waste department; and approved travel for the Engineer and Assistant Engineer to attend conferences and training.In other business, the Commission approved:
• re-appointment of Reginald Spencer to the E-911 Board;

• tabled appointment to the Hospital Board for District 2;

• request from the
Society of Folk Arts and Culture for use of the
Courthouse bathrooms for the Black Belt Folk
Roots Festival on August 24 and 25, 2019; and

• report from the Revenue Commissioner correcting the 2018 tax collection data.

The Greene County Commission recessed the meeting until July 17, 2019 at 3:45 PM. Several items discussed in the July 3, 2019 Commission Work Session were not discussed and may be the subject of the continuation meeting.
These items included an issue with the Sheriff saying he was not fully reimbursed by funds provided by the Board of Education for the cost of safety officers assigned to the schools and issues concerning the future of the Greene County Ambulance Service. The two main employees of the Ambulance Service announced to the Commission that they planned to retire on July 31 and arrangements will need to be made to keep the ambulance service in operation.

Newswire: Experts: Reparations are workable and should be provided

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Dr. Mary Francis Berry
As Joe Biden prepares to enter the crowded Democratic field for the 2020 presidential election, it wouldn’t be surprising if the former vice president will join the other 19 declared candidates in using reparations for the Transatlantic Slave Trade as a political platform.
Candidates including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, California Sen. Kamala Harris, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro have said they intend to seek reparations for African Americans.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has asked for reparations for both African Americans and Native Americans.
Just three years ago, a United Nations working group jumped into the fray.
Following 14 years and 20 days of speaking with U.S. officials, activists, and families of people killed by police in major American cities, the U.N. working group issued its conclusion that the slave trade was a crime against humanity and the American government should pay reparations.
The experts traveled to major cities including Washington, D.C.; Jackson, Mississippi; Baltimore; Chicago and New York.
“Contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the racial terror lynching in the past,” a French member of the working group of U.N. experts Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France, told CBS News.

Dr. Mary Frances Berry, a Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and the author of numerous books including “My Face is Black Is True: Callie House and the Struggle for Ex-Slave Reparations,” told NNPA Newswire that, “as matter of justice and no matter how long it takes, there should be a full-throated demand for reparations for slavery echoing the demand of the thousands of ex-slaves in the 19th century and reasserted time and again since.”
“The odds against success are great but given the meager gains to date, it’s just as fruitful to argue for reparations as anything else and besides it is a just cause,” Dr. Berry said.
“Whatever we do, we should remind ourselves, as Frederick Douglass said, ‘Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has. It never will,’” she said.
Berry, who once served as chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and as Assistant Secretary for Education in the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, scoffed at the idea that reparations are “unworkable.”
Precedent has already been set, she said. “The country has lots of experience with reparations. The federal government gave compensation to slave owners in the border states who let their slaves enlist in the Union Army,” Dr. Berry said.
“Also, during the Civil War, compensation was given to slave owners in the District of Columbia when slaves there were freed in 1862 and, more recently, compensation for Holocaust victims and the victims of Japanese Internment are examples of reparations,” she said.
Dr. Berry continued: “In the 19th century after the Civil War, Callie House, a former slave, led a movement to demand pensions for old ex-slaves as reparations for their poverty and unrequited labor during slavery.
“Her organization collected petitions including the names of former owners of ex-slaves and succeeded in having bills introduced in Congress and sued the federal government, losing on technical grounds.”
San Francisco-based attorney Dale Minami, who was involved in significant litigation involving the civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans and other minorities, said he believes the African American vote is critical to a successful reparations campaign.
“With the racial divide stoked by President Donald Trump’s racial bias, the need for some healing among the races is a progressive and necessary policy and redress and reparations promote this healing so that we can move toward a less factionalized, less racially divided country,” Minami said.
For those who believe reparations are unworkable, Minami said they’re conflating two separate issues: the deserving claim to reparations and the difficulty in implementation. “Reparations is a good idea and depending how you define implementation determines the ‘workability,’” he said.
“If reparations means individual payment, yes, there is a huge problem of allocation of money based on percentage of Black ancestry but if you define it as a Trust Fund to support Black institutions, community organizations, education, or other projects to improve the African American community, it’s bit easier to implement,” Minami said.
As an example, the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund of which Minami served as chairman, received $5 million as part of a Redress bill to give to projects that educate about the injustice of the incarcerations of Japanese Americans.
The original bill called for $50 million but so many were still alive when Redress was granted, the fund dwindled, Minami said.
“So, I think there are creative ways to help make up for the enormous cruelty of slavery and its long-term effects on the Black community,” he said.

Newswire : After risking life, Liberian activist, Alfred Brownell. wins Goldman Environmental Prize

Alfred Brownell

Apr. 29, 2019 (GIN) — Multinational corporations who seek weak democracies, high rates of poverty, and untapped resources, seem to make a beeline for Liberia which has struggled to overcome two wars and the devastating pandemic of ebola.

As a result, “Liberia has been taken over by multinational corporations exploiting its resources at the expense of Liberians, especially the country’s working class that serves as cheap labor to these foreign companies.”

That was the bleak view of Moses Uneh Yahmia, writing for the Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt.

But when a palm oil company was poised to take over 800 square miles of lush forest, destroying the habitat, evicting communities and uprooting burial grounds, one local activist was propelled into action.

“It was not just that they were destroying the forest,” said Alfred Brownell, activist and environmental lawyer. “They were also working with the local government officials who were threatening, harassing and intimidating the communities… It was total annihilation.”

The lawyer and his colleagues collected information from indigenous residents about the destruction of homes, sacred sites, warriors’ graves and the forest in Sinoe County.

Brownell persuaded the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil to place a stop work order on the company, Golden Veroleum Liberia, owned by the US-based Verdant Fund LP and controlled by the Singapore palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources, second-largest palm oil plantation company in the world.

The company has since “voluntarily withdrawn” from the Roundtable after its Complaints Panel confirmed a series of ongoing violations, including failure to implement adequate free, prior and informed consent procedures, destruction of sacred sites and coercion and intimidation of community members to sign agreements with the company.

“Palm oil companies will not just displace [people in affected communities], but their culture, their history, their value, their traditional institutions, will all be completely altered,” says Brownell, founder of the Liberian lawyers network Green Advocates.

In October 2016, facing threats to his life, Brownell and his family sought refuge in the US, where he became a distinguished scholar in residence at Northeastern University. There, he teaches a course of human rights and global economy.

This week Brownell will be among 6 winners of the 2019 Goldman Environmental Prize – dubbed the “Green Nobel Prize” – for exposing the alleged abuses by Golden Veroleum Liberia. Prizewinners will be honored by former Vice President Al Gore. The prize carries a $200,000 award.

Newswire: John Singleton, director of “Boyz n the Hood,” dies from a stroke


By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet.Today

John Singleton

John Singleton, who was nominated for an Oscar for his masterpiece “Boyz n the Hood,” died Monday after suffering a stroke, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off.

Singleton’s death was announced by his family, which had been feuding over how to address and what to disclose about his condition. They finally agreed to take him off life support on Monday, and he died a few hours later in Cedars -Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He suffered the stroke on April 17 and died on April 29. He was 51.

“We are sad to relay that John Singleton has died. John passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends. We want to thank the amazing doctors at Cedars-Sinai Hospital for their expert care and kindness, and we again want to thank all of John’s fans, friends and colleagues for the all of the love and support they showed him during this difficult time,” the Singleton family said in a statement.

Singleton, a native of Los Angeles, won rave reviews for “Boyz n the Hood,” a spellbinding film released in 1991 about the challenges young black men faced living in neighborhoods located in South Central Los Angeles crippled by drugs and violence.

Singleton was born January 6, 1968, in South Central L.A. and he grew up there. He wrote a screenplay about the neighborhood as his thesis while a student at the University of Southern California Film School. He was the first African-American director nominated for an Oscar. At the time, he was 24.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences also nominated the screenplay for an Oscar. He was 25.
The film starred Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Laurence Fishburne, who was cast as Cuba Gooding’s father, a rarity then and now in Hollywood.

Roger Ebert, the late Chicago Sun-Times film critic, called “Boyz n the Hood” a brilliant directorial debut and a film of enormous importance.

Singleton’s film cast included other unknowns who later blossomed into stars. Three were: Angela Bassett, Nia Long and Regina King, who won the 2018 Oscar for best-supporting actress for her role in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” based on the novel by James Baldwin.

He also directed “The Race Card,” an episode of the FX 2016 miniseries “The People Versus O.J. Simpson,” which focused on racist L.A. police detective Mark Fuhrman who lied on the witness stand in a failed attempt a convict O.J. Simpson. He also directed episodes of the television series “Empire.” Taraji P. Henson, star of the television series, v

When he presented the screenplay for “Boyz n the Hood” to financial backers, they asked him how he would feel if someone else directed it. He boldly told them that the conversation with him would be over if they pursued that strategy. “I wasn’t going to have someone from Idaho or Encino, a section of Los Angeles, direct this movie,” Singleton said at the 25th anniversary of the film’s screening.
Although 80 percent of strokes can be prevented, black men suffer from strokes at a younger age than white men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because of high blood pressure. News reports said the 5’ 6” Singleton struggled with high blood pressure, which is common among black men.
Singleton is survived by his five children and his parents.

Newswire: Trump, media assaults on Omar a new low for American Politics

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar

American politics appears to have hit a new low.
According to reports, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has beefed up security following the vicious attacks she’s received and even news reports that paint her as un-American. What’s worse, the attacks stem from tweets made against her by President Donald Trump.
“The criticisms of Congresswoman Omar, what Trump has been saying about her, is reprehensible,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a Democratic presidential candidate. “It is trafficking in Islamophobia, and should be condemned by everyone,” Booker said.
One of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress, Omar has come under repeated attack from the president and others, including Fox News as a result of her questioning America’s relationship with Israel.
“We will never forget,” Trump tweeted in all-capital letters recently, attaching a video that spliced together comments Omar made with footage of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Some media favorable to the president have also attacked Omar and despite death threats made against her, Trump has continued his assault by calling her –without any supporting evidence and against her denials – “anti-Semitic,” and “anti-Israel.”
Booker noted that Trump has also attacked other African American women leaders like California Rep. Maxine Waters. “The kind of language this president uses, especially about black women in power, is toxic,” Booker said.
That Trump claims he’s not racist isn’t satisfactory, Booker said. “It’s not enough to say, I’m not a racist. We must all be anti-racist,” he said. The rhetoric by Trump and his allies against Omar have resulted in the Senator ramping up security, particularly as she’s received death threats.
Recently, a Rhode Island man allegedly threatened to “kill every Democrat in the world,” federal officials said. Matthew Haviland, 30, of North Kingstown was charged after sending approximately 28 threatening emails on March 10 to a college professor, whose name and affiliation was withheld by federal officials. Haviland is facing federal threat charges and cyberstalking.
In an affidavit, FBI task force officer Richard Laft, Jr. wrote that the professor told authorities Haviland’s “views regarding abortion and politics have become more extreme” within the last year.
The professor, who had been friends with Haviland for about 11 years, believed Haviland’s views changed because “of the way the news media portrays” President Donald Trump, Laft wrote.
Authorities said Omar was among the Democrats whom Haviland threatened to kill.
Latagia Copeland-Tyronce, a writer and journalist out of Detroit, said as a black woman and social justice advocate, she knows “all too well what it feels like to be attacked for speaking up and out.”
“And, as such, I believe that there should be a zero-tolerance policy in regards to our black representatives in Congress,” Copeland-Tyronce said.
“We, as a people, cannot allow our black leaders to be attacked for their advocacy. I am a proponent of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, however, abuse and racism crosses the line and should be called out when and where it rears its ugly head,” she said.
Dr. Omekongo Dibinga, an American University professor and director of Upstander International, said it’s imperative that all stand up to bigotry.
“We need to fight fire with facts. I know that President Trump has ushered in the era of fake news and alternative facts, but I believe at the end of the day, the reality of his policies of lies and dissension will do him in, even with his followers as the effects of [Former President] Barack Obama’s positive economy begin to dwindle and they realized he never cared about them in the first place,” Dibinga said.
Shiwon Oh of Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, said Trump’s presidency exposes a racist underbelly of America that has always been there from the beginning.
“He just gave validation to their opinions and beliefs that its influence is now seeping into mainstream media channels like Fox News,” Oh said.
“All people can do is continue countering the lies with facts, voicing their opposition to racial oppression, and urging their communities to be on the right side of history, even if it means being ridiculed by some,” she said.

Newswire: Crump, NAACP, NNPA to demonstrate after police brutality incident in Florida

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Student handled brutally by Broward Co. Florida police

The Broward County Chapter of the NAACP will lead a march and rally to demand the termination and criminal prosecution of two Florida sheriff deputies who were caught on video punching a 15-year-old African American student and repeatedly slamming the child’s head against concrete pavement.
The weekend rally – a peaceful demonstration – will include the teen’s attorney, famed civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump, National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., Westside Gazette Publisher Bobby Henry and Broward County NAACP leaders.
“We cannot become desensitized to the brutality visited upon our young black men and women,” said Chavis, who’s also a civil rights activist who worked under Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“In addition to reporting news, the NNPA, a trade association representing the 215 African American newspapers and media companies around the country, is also a voice for civil rights,” Chavis said.
Further, as the trusted source for news and information in the African American community, the NNPA should be at the forefront in informing its readers about all that affects them, Henry said.
“It’s important for us to remember where we came from and this is galvanizing and communicating on a level where we are all involved and this is such an important issue,” said Henry. “We need to realize that this concerns us, and we should not wait for the white media to tell us about our community and when something happens, they should be coming to us for that information,” he said.
Delucca “Lucca” Rolle, a student at J.P. Taravella High School, was accused of aggravated assault against an officer, but the charge made “no sense,” prosecutors said.
A cell phone video captured Broward County Sheriff’s deputies pepper-spraying, tackling and punching a group of teens last week outside a McDonald’s near the school.
The video shows deputies take Rolle down, with one deputy banging Rolle’s forehead into the pavement and punching him in the head, while another deputy helped restrain and handcuff him.
Rolle, one of two teens who were arrested, reportedly suffered a broken nose in the encounter.
Deputy Christopher Krickovich and Sgt. Greg LaCerra were both suspended by the Sheriff’s office after the video was released, though, originally, they were placed on restricted assignment.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office said it has begun investigating the deputies’ actions and prosecutors decided not to file charges against Rolle.
Rolle’s family also has hired Crump, who said he wants the deputies involved to face criminal charges. Crump noted that the two arrested teens are black, while all three deputies seen in the cellphone video are white. “Rolle was a teen beaten by deputies after he picked up a cellphone that fell out of the pocket of a black boy who was being arrested,” Crump said.
“In response, the deputies “pepper-sprayed, brutally beat, and arrested him,” said Crump, who represented the family of Michael Brown, a 17-year-old African-American, who was shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Mo.
Crump also represented the family of Trayvon Martin, who in 2012 was killed by George Zimmerman, a white neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla.
The encounter between Rolle and the deputies happened outside McDonald’s, a frequent after-school hangout spot. At one point, Krickovich and LaCerra went to arrest a student — not Rolle — who had been warned not to trespass at the shopping center, according to a Sheriff’s report.
Crump said “Starting now, we will seek justice through every avenue possible for Lucca and his family. The actions on the video by the officers against Delucca are unconscionable.”
The hashtag #JusticeForLucca has been trending on Twitter.
Rolle’s supporters plan a peaceful rally Saturday afternoon at Hampton Pines Park in North Lauderdale, with attendees encouraged to wear red. Rolle was wearing a red shirt on the day of his arrest.
“We need to make sure we convey the message that the only crime committed on that day was not from the young man, the black children that were there, but from the two deputies and the way they manhandled those kids,” said local NAACP President Marsha Ellison.
“Police brutality and what we consider child abuse will not be tolerated, certainly with our kids who are equally as important as those in other communities,” Ellison said.
She’s also calling for the termination and prosecution of the deputies. “We want the sheriff to hold them accountable and for them to be terminated, meaning they don’t have the opportunity to do this to anyone else while in a [sheriff’s] uniform,” Ellison said.
“We are wary of the state Attorney’s Office in their investigation. It could be one year sometimes two and they’ll try and wait until this dies down and close the case,” she said. “That’s not good enough. A suspension is not good enough. These children are traumatized, emotionally damaged. The 2020 election is coming where we get to choose a new sheriff and new states Attorney. We’re tired of this. Enough is enough.”

Newswire : Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sues White House Office of Management and Budget for Payday Lending Documents Records

Washington, D.C. – This week, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the White House Office of Management and Budget. The lawsuit seeks the release of public records related to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney’s ties to the payday lending industry after his office failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request made several months ago.
“Director Mulvaney’s decision to roll back consumer protections for low-income borrowers in America is a prime example of regressive policies that harm consumers across the country, particularly African Americans and other communities of color,” stated Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Clarke continued: “We know that Mr. Mulvaney previously accepted large campaign contributions from key points of contact in the payday lending industry as a member of Congress, and the American people deserve to know if their influence had anything to do with his decision to undermine anti-discrimination enforcement or roll back regulations preventing predatory lending.
The law requires the White House to disclose any records relating to Mulvaney’s communications with industry lobbyists. Through our litigation we are fighting to promote transparency during an era in which CFPB, OMB, and other agencies have increasingly concealed information to keep the public in the dark.”
After taking over the CFPB last year, while also keeping his role at OMB, Mulvaney immediately moved to roll back rules protecting low-income payday loan borrowers. The CFPB had enacted these new rules after years of careful study of the predatory harms of payday lending, including how such loans are targeted to communities of color. The Lawyers’ Committee filed this FOIA request with OMB to determine whether Mulvaney improperly used his White House office to discuss his regulatory actions with industry representatives.