Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II (5th District Missouri)
(Kansas City, MO) – Today, United States Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy, and Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protections & Financial Institutions, along with 17 fellow lawmakers, including United States Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), called for an investigation into potential criminal misconduct at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
In a letter to Mark Bialek, Inspector General of the CFPB and Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and the Comptroller General of the Government Accountability Office, Cleaver and Meeks wrote:
“We write to express our deep concern regarding allegations of possible violations of law and policy by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in changes to its payday lending rule. These detailed claims include possible political manipulation and influence aimed at undermining consumer protection, which strikes at the core function of the CFPB. We request that the Office of Inspector General and Government Accountability Office review these troubling allegations and take any other appropriate action to determine whether abuse of authority or other official misconduct occurred.”
In 2017, under the leadership of Obama-appointed Director Richard Corday, the CFPB initially finalized a payday lending rule that included provisions mandating underwriting from payday lenders. In 2019, under the leadership of Trump-appointed Director Kathleen Kraninger, a revised notice of proposed rulemaking was released rescinding these mandatory underwriting provisions as well as the date of rule implementation.
On April 29, 2020, The New York Times published a 14-page internal memo, reportedly authored by former CFPB economist Jonathan Lanning, detailing potential political influence on the rulemaking process with the intention of undermining consumer protections in the CFPB’s attempts to revise its payday lending rule. The leaked memo offers a specific chronology of internal thinking, supplemented with cited instances of alleged misconduct by CFPB officials.
“The American people want a federal government that makes decisions grounded in science and based in the best interests of the public. This detailed memo shines a disturbing light into what appears to be political, backdoor dealing within the CFPB, an institution we crafted to serve American consumers and inherently be apolitical,” said Congressman Cleaver. “The claim that they possibly deceived Members of Congress, distorted data, and intentionally misinterpreted economic analysis warrants a complete and thorough investigation from the Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office. If indeed they did mislead the United States Congress, that, in the words of Mr. Lanning, ‘is actually a really big deal.’”
“This Administration’s intention to undermine the CFPB, and the key role it plays in protecting consumers from abusive and predatory financial practices has been evident from the start,” Congressman Meeks said. “However, the revelations from the internal memo highlight the extent to which President Trump’s CFPB leadership went to these ends, including distorting data and pressuring career staff to misrepresent market realities. As Chairman of the Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions Subcommittee, I have held a series of hearings on the unbanked, underbanked, and the abusive practices of the payday industry. Working with my colleagues in Congress, I will continue to investigate the actions of the CFPB, and urge the Inspector General, the Comptroller General, and the Department of Justice to investigate this matter.”
You can find the official letter with a list of co-signers here.
Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Matt Helfant at 202-590-0175 or Matthew.Helfant@mail.house.gov A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.