Consumer Bureau Gets an F in Transparency

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 26, 2013 — As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) defends its right to monitor ordinary citizens’ credit card transactions, it is simultaneously denying citizens the ability to monitor the agency’s most basic proceedings. The Daily Caller reports that the CFPB last week blocked a small businessman from attending meetings of its Consumer Advisory Board in Jackson, Miss. According to John Berlau, a Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow who closely tracks the CFPB, this is just the latest in a series of actions that show the CFPB has no interest in transparency.

“Why do you even go to Mississippi for a meeting if you’re not letting the people of Mississippi into most of it?” Berlau told The Daily Caller in an interview. He condemned the CFPB’s decision to prevent Bobby Riggs, a ship designer in the Jackson area, from attending last Thursday’s meeting.

Berlau noted that the Consumer Advisory Board’s biased composition of nearly all Democrats is all the more reason that entrepreneurs like Riggs should be allowed to attend meetings and present their perspectives. The CFPB’s actions are especially controversial, given recent revelations about its data-mining practices.

Berlau called the CFPB hypocritical for demanding privacy for its own proceedings while disregarding the privacy of consumers whose personal financial information it is combing for its database. “At a U.S. House hearing in July, CFPB acting deputy director Steven Antonakes revealed that the bureau hopes to monitor 900 million credit-card accounts” Berlau wrote on CEI’s blog, “This represents nearly 80 percent of the U.S. credit-card market.”

He concludes: “If the CFPB wants the trust of Mississippi and American consumers to foster transparency in markets, it must be more open in its own affairs. And it must stop nosing around in the personal financial matters of the individuals it was created to serve.”

► Read The Daily Caller article that quotes Berlau: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Accused of Violating Transparency Law

► Read Berlau’s OpenMarket post: Mississippi Should Tell CFPB to “Stop Spying on Me”