PA’s attorney general filed suit against Verizon

Yet another reason to make sure you vote for pro-consumer attorneys general! Josh Shapiro stands up for the little guy:

That’s how Verizon began an email apologizing to customers after the Pennsylvania attorney general sued the communications giant for allegedly failing to deliver on marketing promises.

The email appears to be part of Verizon’s effort to make good on its promotional offers after Attorney General Josh Shapiro filed the lawsuit against the wireless company last week, claiming customers were unable to obtain promised Amazon Prime memberships and Echo devices.

“We’ve heard from some customers that they had trouble redeeming their Fios promotion,” Verizon wrote in an email on Feb. 14. “If you experienced any issues, we’re sorry about that. We want to let you know that your reward is ready and you’re just a few clicks away from redeeming.”

The cable scam

In other words, the business plan is to make the product worse for the people who actually use it. Via Ars Technica:

US cable Internet customers are using an average of 268.7GB per month, and 4.1 percent of households use at least 1TB, according to new research by the vendor OpenVault.

Households that use at least 1TB a month are at risk of paying overage fees because of the 1TB data caps imposed by Comcast and other ISPs. Terabyte users nearly doubled year over year, as just 2.1 percent of households hit the 1TB mark last year, according to OpenVault.

Cable Internet providers use OpenVault products to track “broadband data usage consumption levels for millions of subscribers,” the company says. This gives OpenVault visibility into how much data broadband customers use each month.

OpenVault found that households that face data caps use 8.5-percent less data than un-capped users, suggesting that cable customers limit their Internet usage when they face the prospect of overage fees. According to OpenVault, the caps can help cable companies avoid major network upgrades.

For cable Internet users, the need to limit usage to avoid overage fees isn’t a selling point. But for OpenVault’s cable industry customers, the ability to impose caps is a plus because it helps cable companies delay network upgrades.

OxyContin maker explored expansion into “attractive” anti-addiction market

Not content with billions of dollars in profits from the potent painkiller OxyContin, its maker explored expanding into an “attractive market” fueled by the drug’s popularity — treatment of opioid addiction, according to previously secret passages in a court document filed by the state of Massachusetts.

In internal correspondence beginning in 2014, Purdue Pharma executives discussed how the sale of opioids and the treatment of opioid addiction are “naturally linked” and that the company should expand across “the pain and addiction spectrum,” according to redacted sections of the lawsuit by the Massachusetts attorney general. A member of the billionaire Sackler family, which founded and controls the privately held company, joined in those discussions and urged staff in an email to give “immediate attention” to this business opportunity, the complaint alleges.

ProPublica reviewed the scores of redacted paragraphs in Massachusetts’ 274-page civil complaint against Purdue, eight Sackler family members, company directors and current and former executives, which alleges that they created the opioid epidemic through illegal deceit. These passages remain blacked out at the company’s request after the rest of the complaint was made public on Jan. 15. A Massachusetts Superior Court judge on Monday ordered that the entire document be released, but the judge gave Purdue until Friday to seek a further stay of the ruling.

The sections of the complaint already made public contend that the Sacklers pushed for higher doses of OxyContin, guided efforts to mislead doctors and the public about the drug’s addictive capacity, and blamed misuse on patients.

Citing extensive emails and internal company documents, the redacted sections allege that Purdue and the Sackler family went to extreme lengths to boost OxyContin sales and burnish the drug’s reputation in the face of increased regulation and growing public awareness of its addictive nature. Concerns about doctors improperly prescribing the drug, and patients becoming addicted, were swept aside in an aggressive effort to drive OxyContin sales ever higher, the complaint alleges.

Among the allegations: Purdue paid two executives convicted of fraudulently marketing OxyContin millions of dollars to assure their loyalty, concealed information about doctors suspected of inappropriately prescribing the opioid, and was advised by global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. on strategies to boost the drug’s sales and burnish its image, including how to “counter the emotional messages” of mothers whose children overdosed. Since 2007, the Sackler family has received more than $4 billion in payouts from Purdue, according to a redacted paragraph in the complaint.

“The payments were the motivation for the Sacklers’ misconduct,” the complaint says. “And the payments were deliberate decisions to benefit from deception in Massachusetts, at great cost to patients and families.”

In 1998, two years after OxyContin was launched, Dr. Richard Sackler, a son of Purdue co-founder Raymond Sackler, instructed executives in an email that its tablets were not merely “therapeutic” but also “enhance personal performance,” like Viagra. Fifteen years later, he complained in another email that a Google alert he set up for OxyContin news was giving him too much information about the drug’s dangers.

“Why are all the alerts about negatives and not one about the positives of OxyContin tablets?” he asked a company vice president. Staff immediately offered to replace Sackler’s alert with a service that supplied more flattering stories, according to the complaint.

The redacted paragraphs leave little doubt about the dominant role of the Sackler family in Purdue’s management. The five Purdue directors who are not Sacklers always voted with the family, according to the complaint. The family-controlled board approves everything from the number of sales staff to be hired to details of their bonus incentives, which have been tied to sales volume, the complaint says. In May 2017, when longtime employee Craig Landau was seeking to become Purdue’s chief executive, he wrote that the board acted as “de-facto CEO.” He was named CEO a few weeks later.

In a statement today in response to questions about the redacted material, the company said that Massachusetts “seeks to publicly vilify Purdue, its executives, employees and directors by taking out of context snippets from tens of millions of documents and grossly distorting their meaning. The complaint is riddled with demonstrably inaccurate allegations.”

Purdue acknowledged in the statement that it was considering acquiring the rights to sell drugs that combat addiction or reverse the effects of an overdose. It criticized the state for “casting in a negative light” the company’s exploration of a potential acquisition of an addiction treatment that was already on the market, “even though the company never actually made the acquisition.”

Purdue also pointed out that OxyContin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It said that most opioid overdoses “now result from heroin and illicit fentanyl.”

The Sackler family was once best known for its philanthropy. Its name is engraved on museums and university buildings across the world. A group of activists has called on organizations to stop accepting Sackler donations and for the family name to be stripped from some institutions. Aggressive marketing of OxyContin is blamed by some analysts for propelling the crisis that has resulted in 200,000 overdose deaths related to prescription opioids since 1999.

After its 1996 launch, OxyContin rapidly became a top seller. But reports of patients abusing the drug soon followed. OxyContin contained more pain relief medication than older drugs, and crushing and snorting it was a simple way to get high fast. In 2007, Purdue pleaded guilty to federal charges of understating the risk of addiction and agreed to pay $600 million in fines and penalties. Still, the company argued publicly that OxyContin has “done far more good than harm,” and it sought to place responsibility for the bad acts on “certain of its supervisors and employees.”

Privately, the complaint suggests, the Sacklers were concerned about alienating two executives, then-CEO Michael Friedman and then-legal counsel Howard Udell. Friedman and Udell each pleaded guilty in 2007 in U.S. District Court in Abingdon, Virginia, to a misdemeanor charge of misbranding OxyContin, as did a former executive. The board signed off on the three executives’ decisions to plead guilty. No member of the Sackler family pleaded guilty.

Purdue paid $5 million to Udell in November 2008, and up to $1 million in November 2009, the complaint states. In February 2008, the company paid $3 million to Friedman. The complaint doesn’t mention any payments to the former executive.

“The Sacklers spent millions to keep the loyalty of people who knew the truth,” the complaint alleges.

Udell died in 2013. A person answering a phone number listed to Friedman declined comment.

The plea deals did little to hinder OxyContin sales or the Sacklers’ hands-on management. At the direction of the board, Purdue repeatedly increased its sales force, which pushed doctors to prescribe higher opioid doses.

In 2008, the same year that Purdue paid Udell and Friedman, Richard Sackler advised other family members that it was important to select a new chief executive who was loyal to the family. “People who will shift their loyalties rapidly under stress and temptation can become a liability from the owners’ viewpoint,” he allegedly wrote. A defendant in the Massachusetts lawsuit, Richard Sackler served in a number of different positions at the company before being named president in 1999 and then co-chairman of the board in 2003.

The company did install five new, non-family board members in the wake of the federal investigation. But in hundreds of board votes, the new directors never opposed the family, according to the complaint. Although Purdue does not operate outside the U.S., board meetings took place at a castle in Ireland as well as in Bermuda, London, Portugal and Switzerland.

When sales results disappointed, Sackler family members didn’t hesitate to intervene. In late 2010, Purdue told the family that sales of the highest dose and most profitable opioids were lower than expected, according to the complaint. That meant an expected quarter-end payout to the family of $320 million was at risk of being reduced to $260 million and would have to be made in two installments in December instead of one in November.

That news prompted a sharp email question from Mortimer D.A. Sackler, whose late father, also named Mortimer, was a Purdue co-founder. “Why are you BOTH reducing the amount of the distribution and delaying it and splitting it in two?” he asked. “Just a few weeks ago you agreed to distribute the full 320 [million dollars] in November.” The complaint doesn’t say how much was ultimately paid.

From 2009 until at least 2014, McKinsey helped Purdue shape its message for selling OxyContin and overcoming concerns about addiction and overdoses, according to redacted passages. The consultant told Purdue in a slide presentation that it could increase prescriptions by convincing doctors that opioids provide “freedom” and “peace of mind” and give patients “the best possible chance to live a full and active life.”

Purdue staff, according to the complaint, told the Sacklers that McKinsey would study “patient pushback” to encourage hesitant doctors to prescribe opioids. In a meeting with Purdue executives, McKinsey planned how to “counter the emotional messages from mothers with teenagers that overdosed in [sic] OxyContin” by recruiting pain patients to talk about the need for the drugs.

In a 2013 report, McKinsey recommended directing sales representatives to focus on the most prolific opioid prescribers because that group writes “25 times as many OxyContin scripts” as less prolific prescribers. Because prescription rates rose in tandem with visits from sales reps to doctors, McKinsey recommended increasing each salesperson’s quota from 1,400 visits a year to closer to 1,700. McKinsey estimated that targeting the most frequent prescribers could boost OxyContin sales by hundreds of millions of dollars. The quotas rose, as did total visits, the complaint states. Purdue said it planned to decrease visits relating to opioid products, and any increase was due to promoting a laxative.

McKinsey also recommended Purdue fight back against efforts by a major pharmacy chain, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice to stop illegal opioid prescribing, the complaint states. These new rules were cutting into sales of the highest doses, which were also the most profitable, it says. The complaint doesn’t say if Purdue followed McKinsey’s recommendation. Purdue said the recommendations “actually relate to ensuring continued access to pain medicines for appropriate patients.”

A McKinsey spokesman declined comment.

In September 2014, Purdue embarked on a secret project to join an industry that was booming thanks in part to OxyContin abuse: addiction treatment medication. Code-named Project Tango, it involved Purdue executives and staff as well as Dr. Kathe Sackler, a daughter of the company co-founder Mortimer Sackler and a defendant in the Massachusetts lawsuit. She participated in phone calls and told staff that the project required their “immediate attention,” according to the complaint.

Internally, Purdue touted the growth of an industry that its aggressive marketing had done so much to foster.

“It is an attractive market,” the team working on the project wrote in a presentation. “Large unmet need for vulnerable, underserved and stigmatized patient population suffering from substance abuse, dependence and addiction.”

While OxyContin sales were declining, the internal team at Purdue touted the fact that the addiction treatment marketplace was expanding.

“Opioid addiction (other than heroin) has grown by ~20%” annually from 2000 to 2010, the company noted. Although Richard Sackler had blamed OxyContin abuse in an email on “reckless criminals,” the Purdue staff exploring the new business opportunity described in far more sympathetic terms the patients whom it now planned to treat.

“This can happen to any-one – from a 50 year old woman with chronic lower back pain to a 18 year old boy with a sports injury, from the very wealthy to the very poor,” it said.

Company documents recommended becoming an “end-to-end pain provider.”
Initially, Purdue intended to sell one such medication, Suboxone, which is commonly retailed as a film that melts in the mouth. When Kathe Sackler asked staff members to look into reports that children might be swallowing the film, they reassured her. They responded, according to the complaint, that youngsters were overdosing on pills, but not the films, “which is a positive for Tango.”

In 2015, Purdue turned its attention to another potential product, the overdose reversing agent known as Narcan, calling it a “strategic fit.” Purdue executives discussed how its sales force could promote Narcan to the same doctors who prescribed the most opioids. Purdue said in the statement Wednesday that it decided against acquiring the rights to sell Suboxone and Narcan.

While those initiatives appear to have stalled or ended, Richard Sackler received a patent last year for a drug to treat addiction, according to the complaint. The patent application states that opioids are addictive and refers to people who suffer from substance use disorders as “junkies.”

Besides being a defendant in the Massachusetts case, Richard Sackler was deposed in a lawsuit against Purdue in Kentucky, which the company settled. It’s believed to be the only time a member of the family has been questioned under oath about OxyContin and its addictive properties. The Kentucky Court of Appeals has ordered the release of his deposition, in response to a motion by STAT, but Purdue is asking the state Supreme Court to review the ruling. Hundreds of other lawsuits filed by states, cities, counties and tribes against Purdue have been consolidated in a pending case in federal court in Ohio.

The Massachusetts complaint cites multiple incidents of Purdue allegedly sitting on information, sometimes for years, about doctors it had reason to believe were inappropriately prescribing OxyContin. In 2012, a Purdue employee appealed to the company’s head of sales to alert health insurers to data the company collected about doctors suspected of abusing or illegally prescribing OxyContin. The list of doctors was code-named Project Zero.

“At a basic level, it just seems like the right and ethical thing to do,” the employee wrote. “Doing so could help those companies identify those physicians that may be of a concern, not just with respect to our products, but also other” pain medications. “As a result, if it reduces abuse and diversion of opioids then it seems like something we should be doing.”

The idea was rejected and the employee left the company a month later, according to the complaint.

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Beyond Big Cable

Lowell, Massachusetts to look into building municipal broadband:

LOWELL — How often do you shake your head as you look down at another rate hike from Comcast Xfinity?

City councilors would like to give residents another option, in the hopes of lowering prices and providing fast internet service.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, City Councilor Karen Cirillo proposed that the city manager have the proper department develop a plan to design and build Lowell’s own municipal broadband network.

She called it a very important infrastructure project.

“Now everyone relies on internet access — for work, for contacting people, for your TV, for everything,” Cirillo said.

Some municipalities have set up their own fiber networks, including Chattanooga, Tenn., said resident Ruth Potwin.

Cirillo encouraged the City Council and administration to follow that southern city’s lead.

Read mor

Fake change-of-address websites steal money from consumers

Read on for details:

Changing your address through the United States Postal Service is a straightforward process that can be done online. Recently though, scammers have been creating websites that look like the USPS site and tricking consumers into paying steep prices for no service at all.

How the Scam Works

You type “address change” or a similar query into a search engine. Several results pop up. You click on the one that looks official and says USPS. When the site loads, everything looks normal, you fill out the forms and make a payment with your credit or debit card. Shortly after, you notice a hefty charge from a business that is not the USPS. When you call the company to find out what happened, they claim, at best, that they can only offer you a partial refund.

One consumer reported this experience to BBB.org/ScamTracker: “They set up their site to perfectly mimic the USPS website and charge $80 for an address change that they never actually perform.” In most cases, these fake companies get away with your money and your address is left unchanged.

Ads for short-term plans lacking ACA protections swamped consumer’s online searches

Consumers shopping for insurance online last fall — using search terms such as “Obamacare plans,” “ACA enroll” and “cheap health insurance” — were most often directed to websites that promote individual health plans that didn’t meet consumer protections of the Affordable Care Act, according to a new study.

They also failed to get adequate information about those plans’ limitations, according to the analysis by researchers at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms.

The study, provided to Kaiser Health News ahead of its publication online, probed online marketing practices in eight states.

“It was disturbing, but not unexpected, to find such a high proportion of misleading ads and come-ons,” said Sabrina Corlette, the lead author. “That raises the risk that consumers could be duped into buying health insurance that they think offers comprehensive and secure coverage, but does not.”

The study focused primarily on the marketing of short-term plans, which don’t have to meet most ACA provisions, such as the requirement to cover preexisting conditions. The researchers found that regardless of the search term used, companies promoting or selling only these kinds of plans dominated the results.

Insurance regulators from each of the states told Corlette’s team that tracking the marketing and sales of short-term plans is challenging, as is educating consumers about the risks of limited coverage.

Michael Conway, Colorado’s interim insurance commissioner, told Kaiser Health News in an interview that he has a “high level of concern” that the marketing tactics the study found could have drawn unsuspecting consumers into selections that do not meet their needs.

“We are on alert for complaints,” Conway said. “If we have to strengthen our regulations on marketing, we will.”

Eric Cioppa, Maine’s insurance superintendent, said in an interview that his office has no evidence that consumers unknowingly purchased short-term plans based on misleading online marketing.

“We’ll respond accordingly and aggressively if we find that took place,” Cioppa said.

But Corlette said the findings provide early evidence that after regulatory changes by the Trump administration, some insurers are aggressively marketing short-term plans as a replacement for traditional health insurance, without fully informing consumers of the limits of the skimpier coverage.

That could warrant stronger federal and state oversight, she said.

The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, looked at online marketing in Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas and Virginia. Those states were selected to reflect diverse geography and regulatory approaches, according to the researchers. Of the eight, Colorado and Minnesota require short-term plans to adhere to a shorter contract duration than required by federal law.

[khn_slabs slabs=”799584″ view=”inline”]

Changes In Short-Term Plan Rules 

The ACA bars insurers from denying coverage to people who have health problems or charging them higher premiums. The law also mandates a minimum set of health benefits and requires plans to cap enrollees’ out-of-pocket expenses.

By comparison, short-term plans can deny coverage to applicants who have a preexisting condition and often exclude or limit coverage of maternity care, mental health treatment and prescription drugs.

As a result, short-term plans cost significantly less — typically about half to a third of an ACA plan if the deductible is the same. They are sold outside the ACA exchanges. And people who buy them don’t qualify for the government’s premium subsidies.

These plans are not new. They predate the ACA and allow people to buy coverage between jobs, for example.

The Obama administration put a 90-day limit on such coverage in 2017 because of concerns that the less expensive plans would attract younger and healthier people. Losing such customers could undermine the stability of the ACA marketplaces because they would be left with older and sicker enrollees.

Beginning this year, however, the Trump administration lengthened the potential duration of short-term plans to 364 days and allowed customers to renew the plans.

Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that oversees the ACA insurance exchanges, said those changes offer more affordable coverage that can be “a lifeline to people priced out of the ACA market.”

“These plans are different, and consumers do need to know what they are purchasing, which is why we now require more robust warnings about the limits of these plans than before,” she said. “Fundamentally, we believe in giving consumers more options and leaving it up to them to decide what is right for them and their families.”

The study evaluated online ads in the weeks just before and during the latest open enrollment for ACA coverage, which in most states began Nov. 1 and ended Dec. 15. The researchers analyzed 256 search results and 65 websites and interviewed state regulators in all eight states.

They found that Google searches were most often topped by paid “lead-generating” websites. Such sites don’t sell insurance but ask shoppers for contact and demographic information. Insurers and brokers can buy that information and contact prospective customers. Or, call centers affiliated with the lead-generating sites phone consumers and direct them to a seller.

The researchers also created a profile of a 29-year-old consumer seeking insurance who was in good health and with an income of $20,000 so she was eligible for premium subsidies for ACA-compliant coverage. They entered this consumer’s information into several lead-generating websites and fielded six phone pitches from brokers selling short-term and other non-ACA plans.

Among their findings:

During ACA open enrollment, only 19 percent of the searches using the common search terms yielded sites offering solely ACA-compliant plans. Before open enrollment, the return was less than 1 percent.
Lead-generating sites promoting short-term plans or other non-ACA compliant insurance products were the most common search result in every state, representing more than half of all search results before and during open enrollment.
The six brokers who encouraged the purchase of coverage over the phone provided minimal plan information. Most refused to provide written materials or discontinued the call when asked for such materials.
State officials lack full information about which insurers are marketing short-term plans to their residents, with one official calling it “one of our biggest blind spots.” Most said they plan to start monitoring the insurers’ practices more closely this year.

‘Necessary Niche’ 

An estimated 600,000 to 750,000 people bought short-term plans in 2017. The Trump administration projected last year that about 200,000 ACA customers would switch to this coverage in 2019 due to its rule change. A second government forecast predicted that the new policy would boost short-term coverage enrollment to about 2 million people by 2022.

Insurers who specialize in short-term plans vigorously defend them.

“This is a small and necessary niche in the [individual insurance] marketplace,” said Jeff Smedsrud, CEO of Pivot Health, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., and one of the firms whose website the study analyzed. “If people need temporary coverage, we are there for them. We don’t want people who qualify for a government subsidy to buy our short-term plans. They should get coverage under the ACA.”

Shaun Greene, head of business operations at AgileHealthInsurance.com, said short-term plans offer a more affordable option to people who don’t qualify for a government subsidy under the ACA.

But Matthew Fiedler, a health insurance specialist at the Brookings Institution who was not affiliated with the study, said the longer-duration short-term plans may befuddle some customers. The study, he said, “strongly suggests that some consumers are going to be confused and end up with plans that cover less than they expected.”

We can’t understand consumer contracts — but they’re still binding

Read the entire piece from The Conversation:

We accept standard form contracts when using social media, booking flights, opening a bank account, subscribing to a gym or renting a car. In all these cases, companies offer pre-drafted standardised agreements that are not negotiable.

At the same time, consumers are legally assumed to read the terms and conditions of their contracts. Because of this “duty to read”, consumers are held responsible for the written terms of their agreements, regardless of whether they read them or not.

While consumers have the legal burden to read their contracts, companies do not have a general duty to offer readable ones. As our research shows, most of them are incomprehensible.

America’s monopolies, of thee I sing

ATandT

David Leonhardt writes in the NY Times about a subject that really motivates me: Monopolies. No, they don’t just happen. They’re the result of a political system that rewards their lobbying with deregulation and favorable legal treatment at the expense of the rest of us:

The federal government, under presidents of both parties, has largely surrendered to monopoly power. “The ‘anti’ in ‘antitrust’ has been discarded,” as the legal scholar Tim Wu puts it in his new book, “The Curse of Bigness.” Washington allows most megamergers to proceed either straight up or with only fig-leaf changes. The government has also done nothing to prevent the emergence of dominant new technology companies that mimic the old AT&T monopoly.

This meekness has made possible the consolidation of one industry after another. For a long time, though, it’s been hard to figure out precisely how much consolidation. The available statistics just aren’t very good, which isn’t an accident. In 1981 — around the time that the Reagan administration was launching the modern pro-monopoly era — the Federal Trade Commission suspended a program that collected data on industry concentration.

Fortunately, researchers in the private sector have recently begun filling in the gaps. On Monday, the Open Markets Institute — an anti-monopoly think tank — is releasing the first part of a data set showing the market share that the largest companies have in each industry. You can see the main theme in the charts here: Big companies are much more dominant than they were even 15 years ago.

Why are so many consumers cutting the cable cord?

Cut the Cable (Bill) - 10 Alternatives to Cable Television

Report: 33 million will cut the cable cord this year–higher than previous estimate

Research firm eMarketer says it underestimated how many people might become cord-cutters this year. The firm now believes that 33 million individuals will drop traditional pay TV service in 2018, meaning its previous prediction from July 2017 was off by about 6 million people.

eMarketer seemed to believe that TV providers such as Comcast would slow the bleeding by loading Netflix and other streaming services onto their boxes. Instead, those services continue to cannibalize cable and satellite TV service outright, while live TV services like DirecTV Now and Sling TV allow people to retain many of the same channels they had with traditional pay TV service.

They never seem to mention the high cost. Right now, my monthly cable bill is about the cost of a monthly payment on a luxury car — which, of course, I don’t have. (I have a 16-year-old car. I always pay cash.)

How can that be?

When I call to complain and try to lower my costs, they spout a bunch of word salad that says I can give up both premium channels and it will save me… $10. (I only have cable in one room, I don’t have DVR service.)

One of the reasons I founded CUFF is that I dream about the day that I can speak for 50 thousand or so activist consumers when I talk to politicians.

Student loan watchdog quits, says administration abandoned consumers

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Via Talking Points Memo, some news that will disturb just about anyone with a student loan:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “Student Loan Ombudsman,” responsible for guarding student borrowers against predatory lenders and scammers, has resigned in a scathing letter aimed at acting CFPB director Mick Mulvaney.

“Unfortunately, under your leadership, the Bureau has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting,” Seth Frotman’s resignation letter, obtained by NPR, read. “Instead, you have used the Bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America.”

In his role at CFPB, NPR reported, Frotman oversaw the review of thousands of complaints from student borrowers.

The Trump administration — namely Mulvaney, who also serves as the White House’s budget director, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — has worked diligently to burn pages of Obama-era protections for student borrowers.

[…] Frotman’s letter pointed to specific wrongdoing by Mulvaney, NPR reported, including the alleged suppression of a report from his office revealing that big banks were “saddling [students] with legally dubious account fees.”