CFPB Disavows Trump Administration Task Force Report

Taking a shot at the Trump Administration, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau acknowledged this week that a consumer law task force appointed by former Director Kathleen Kraninger violated federal laws governing advisory boards.

“Because the task force did not comply with [the law’s] requirements, readers should not assume that the report provides ‘sound advice,’” the agency said, in a settlement reached with consumer groups who had challenged the task force’s legality.

Kraninger last year formed the Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law to examine the state of consumer protection law. Consumer groups immediately charged that Kraninger had loaded the panel with opponents of the CFPB. The groups, including the National Association of Consumer Advocates, Democracy Forward and consumer advocate Kathleen Engel, filed suit, alleging that the task force violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the federal law designed to govern task forces. They also charged that in appointing the members of the task force, Kraninger had ignored consumer advocates.

In January, just prior to President Biden taking office, the task force released a two-volume report that trumpeted free markets and pushed a hands-off regulatory philosophy.

In settling the suit, the CFPB acknowledged that the task force should have been governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which prescribes how members of committees are selected and requires public deliberation. The task force generally met in private.

The CFPB agreed to add a disclaimer to the report stating that the task force was illegally formed. The CFPB agreed to make the group’s records public.

The consumer groups said they are pleased with the settlement. “We filed suit against the CFPB and Director Kathy Kraninger to hold them accountable for violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act,” they said, in a joint statement. “The agency failed to explain why the Taskforce was necessary, stacked it with only industry representatives, withheld its records, and kept the public out of its meetings.”

George Mason University Law Professor Todd Zywicki, who chaired the task force, did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Task force member J. Howard Beales III said the report “speaks for itself. The bureau agreed to a cover disclaimer on the report that states the obvious:  the report is not ‘a product of a FACA-compliant federal advisory committee.’  No one ever said it was. The question was always whether FACA applied.” 

Related:

Consumer Groups Ask Judge to Block Use of CFPB Task Force Recommendations

 

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