Lawmaker Excluded from CFPB Meeting, Unable to Hold Executive to Account

Representative Sean Duffy (R., Wis.) recently attempted to attend an advisory committee meeting of the Consumer Financial Protection Board. The agency declined to let him in, preventing him from holding this executive agency to account.

The CFPB has a track record of secrecy and excluding people. My colleague John Berlau wrote last year about how the CFPB Consumer Advisory Board excluded observers from a secret meeting that was about ensuring that it could see the full credit records of 80 percent of Americans.

If a lawmaker cannot hold the executive powers of the CFPB to account, who can? That’s why CEI, the 60 Plus Association, and a community bank, the State National Bank of Big Spring, Texas, have brought a lawsuit against the CFPB and the Dodd-Frank Act that spawned it to have the court find its lack of oversight unconstitutional. We argue that:

Congress exercises no “power of the purse” over the CFPB, because the agency’s budget — administered essentially by one person — comes from the Federal Reserve, amounting to approximately $400 million that Congress cannot touch or regulate.

The president cannot carry out his constitutional obligation to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” because the president cannot remove the CFPB director except under limited circumstances.

Judicial review of the CFPB’s actions is limited, because Dodd-Frank requires the courts to give extra deference to the CFPB’s legal interpretations.

The Dodd-Frank Act gives an agency of unelected government bureaucrats unrestrained power. They argue this unaccountable power over the daily lives of the American people results in a lack of public accountability, creating a power grab over every U.S. citizen.

The CFPB has legislative, executive, and judicial functions with no oversight. The Founding Fathers would have regarded it as an abomination.

The unrestrained power of the CFPB should really bring us back to a philosophical discussion of the fundamental role of the various branches of government — a topic I’ve been discussing recently here, here, and (for the really interested) in an hour-long interview with Jonathan Emord last night, which you can download from the Wednesday March 19 link on the left here.