The ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee is asking for an investigation into allegations that the Biden Administration’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is pushing out top career-level civil servants in an effort to fill the positions with the people who agree with the agency’s new leadership.
“In light of the seriousness of the allegations in this report, as well as the implication that these actions may have been undertaken to provide the administration’s nominee for Director of the CFPB, Rohit Chopra, with the opportunity to hire a hand-picked team of loyalists for senior positions, I request that your office promptly review the allegations,” Senate Banking Committee ranking Republican Pat Toomey wrote, in a letter to Mark Bialek, the Inspector General of the CFPB and the Federal Reserve Board.
Toomey sent similar letters to CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio and Chopra, President Biden’s choice to head the agency.
Chopra’s nomination remains pending in the Senate, after the Banking Committee deadlocked over whether to recommend him for confirmation. It is unclear whether Toomey’s requests may delay a confirmation vote.
The letters follow reports in the government news website, Government Executive that the CFPB leadership has offered incentives for employees to leave, including offering them full pension benefits before they otherwise would be eligible for them. The website reported that federal government rules are designed to encourage such employees to remain in their jobs even after a change in administration.
The CFPB has been a politically charged agency since it was created in the Dodd-Frank Act. Under former President Obama, the agency adopted a strict regulatory regime. When former President Trump took office, the agency became much more friendly with the businesses it regulates. With Biden’s election and the choice of Chopra, a current commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission, to head the agency, the CFPB is likely to take a stricter regulatory position and may rewrite some of the rules adopted by the Trump Administration.
Complicating matters even more is a recent Government Accountability Office report that that the Trump Administration haphazardly reorganized the consumer bureau’s fair lending office, resulting in confusion at the agency and a drop in enforcement actions.
In the report, the GAO said that under then Acting Director Mick Mulvaney and then former Director Kathleen Kraninger, the CFPB failed to produce any documentation to justify transferring the agency’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity to another branch in the director’s office.
Bryan Schneider, who was appointed associate director of the CFPB’s Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending division during the Trump Administration, has announced he will leave the agency in July.