President Donald Trump's financial regulator pushed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to ease up on the lending industry -- which had bankrolled him. Mick Mulvaney in D.C. November 27, 2017 Alex Wong/Getty Images

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau chief Mick Mulvaney repeatedly pressed the agency to back off lending regulations as financial industry donors were bankrolling his congressional bids, according to government documents obtained by International Business Times. Some of the letters signed by Mulvaney that pressured the agency came within weeks of him raking in campaign contributions from payday lending industry donors who were urging the CFPB to stand down.

In response to an IBT open records request, the CFPB released 268 pages of correspondence between the agency and Mulvaney during the Republican’s six years in Congress representing South Carolina —which is home to one of the largest payday lenders in America. President Donald Trump recently appointed Mulvaney to run the CFPB, which Mulvaney had previously criticized.

IBT has published the full trove of Mulvaney’s congressional correspondence with the CFPB and made the documents word-searchable. Click here to see the documents.

During his congressional campaigns, Mulvaney vacuumed in more than $567,000 from donors in the commercial banking, credit and securities/investment industries, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That includes more than $55,000 from donors in the payday and title loan industry, according to data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

“Severely Restrict Access To Credit”

The letters reviewed by IBT show that much of Mulvaney’s criticism of the CFPB revolved around the agency’s attempts to regulate the payday lending industry, which provides short term, high-interest loans.

One such CFPB effort came in June 2016, when the agency proposed a rule that it said would require payday and title lenders to “reasonably determine that the consumer has the ability to repay the loan.” The CFPB also said that for certain loans “with an annual percentage rate greater than 36 percent,” lenders would be barred from withdrawing “payment from a consumer’s account after two consecutive payment attempts have failed.”

Three months after the agency proposed the rule, Mulvaney and eleven other lawmakers wrote a letter to the agency asserting that the rule “has the potential to severely restrict access to credit that millions of Americans rely on” and arguing that “in an effort to keep unscrupulous actors out or the industry the CFPB will simultaneously be harming the very consumers it is trying to protect.”

In the three weeks leading up to the letter, Mulvaney received $18,500 in campaign contributions from payday lenders’ political action committees and executives — including $4,000 from Advance America’s PAC, $2,700 from the Advance America’s CEO J.P. O’Shaughnessy, $2,700 from LoanMax owner Rod Aycox and $2,000 from the Amscot CEO Ian MacKechnie.

Just days after Mulvaney and his cosigners sent their letter to the CFPB, O’Shaughnessy and MacKechnie echoed the lawmakers criticism in their own letters that they sent to the agency.

“You Will Override And Invalidate State Laws”

Mulvaney in 2016 also co-authored a separate letter to the CFPB with fellow Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer. The missive complained that the agency’s proposal for federal regulations of payday lenders were stricter than many states’ laws. Defending states that were “declining to enact an authorizing law to govern the industry,” the lawmakers slammed the agency for creating a federal minimum.

“By setting a federal legal floor, you will override and invalidate state laws that are less restrictive than your federal legal floor,” they wrote.

In another 2016 letter spearheaded by Mulvaney, he and his fellow South Carolina Republican lawmakers criticized CFPB efforts to regulate payday lenders, saying it “will preempt existing laws in our state and will ultimately result in our constituents being forced to tum to risky, unregulated forms of credit.”

In August 2013, Mulvaney also signed a letter with other lawmakers pushing the CFPB to create an “advisory board made up of non-bank lenders, including payday lenders.” Less than two months after the letter was sent to the CFPB, Mulvaney received $17,500 from donors in the payday and title lending industry — including $5,000 from the lobbying group for the payday lending industry.

“A Significantly Higher Compliance Burden”

Mulvaney’s criticism of the CFPB was not limited to its regulations of payday lenders; it also extended to the agency’s oversight of mortgages.

In 2014, the CFPB proposed a rule to require more financial institutions to report more data about the home loans they issue. “This information has helped to promote access to fair credit in the housing market,” wrote the agency in justifying the new reporting requirements.

The next year, Mulvaney added his name to a letter criticizing the move.

“The final rule requires covered banks and credit unions to collect 48 unique data fields on each mortgage loan they make,” he and other Republican lawmakers wrote. “This is more than double the number of data fields covered lenders are currently required to collect and goes well beyond the number of fields required by Section 1094 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which triggered the new rulemaking. This large number of data fields represents a significantly higher compliance burden.”

Friday afternoon, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (MA) and Sherrod Brown (OH), members of the Senate Banking Committee which oversees the CFPB, criticized Mulvaney for conflicts of interests.