CFPB: House Committee Investigates Allegations of Discrimination; Views Differ on Motivations for Hearings–Destroy CFPB or Address Discrimination

On June 25, 2015, the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services held a fifth hearing about discrimination at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The hearing was titled “Examining Continuing Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” But this was no mere subcommittee hearing as both the chairman and ranking member of the full Committee were also present.

Hearings of the House Financial Services Committee, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee
Date Title of Hearing Witnesses Hearing Report Number
4/2/2014 Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Ms. Angela Martin and Ms. Misty Raucci 113-72
5/21/2014 Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, part 2 Mr. Benjamin Konop and Ms. Liza Strong 113-81
6/18/2014 Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, part 3 Mr. Ali Naraghi and Mr. Kevin Williams 113-85
7/30/2014 Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation and the CFPB Management Culture The Honorable Richard Cordray 113-96
6/25/2015 Examining Continuing Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Mr. Robert Cauldwell and Ms. Florine Williams

While the context of the hearing was about the allegations of discrimination, the issue became clouded with the question whether the CFPB should continue to exist. Because of this entanglement, the Democrats were concerned that complaints of discrimination (which the Democratic side holds as serious in their own right) was being used by the GOP majority as a method to undermine the agency, which the GOP would favor.

Do you think that the majority of the members on the opposite side of the aisle are more concerned about discrimination than this side of the aisle?” she [Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)] asked. “Just take a look.”

Waters’s comment drew audible murmurs from Reps. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and Mia Love (R-Utah), who is the first black Republican woman elected in Congress.

“Oh my gosh,” Love said. “Wow.”

“Yeah, you can, ‘Wow’ all you want,” said Waters. “Discrimination issues — at least on this side of the aisle — are taken seriously. … [But] this is a political fight inside the committee.”

Additionally, only the minority members of the Committee have asked the Offices of Inspectors General for the federal financial regulatory agencies to examine their respective agencies diversity and inclusion practices. Yet, as of the date of this post, there have been no hearings held on those reports.

Federal Financial Agency Report Number Internet Link Comment
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Audit report 2015-MO-C-002 http://oig.federalreserve.gov/reports/cfpb-diversity-inclusion-mar2015.pdf American Banker article about racial disparities of CFPB staff evaluations.
Department of the Treasury, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency OIG-15-017 http://www.treasury.gov/about/organizational-structure/ig/Audit%20Reports%20and%20Testimonies/OIG-15-017.pdf
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Eval-15-001 http://www.fdicoig.gov/reports15/15-001EV.pdf
Federal Housing Finance Agency EVL-2015-003 http://fhfaoig.gov/Content/Files/EVL-2015-003.pdf
Federal Reserve Board Audit report 2015-MO-B-006 http://oig.federalreserve.gov/reports/board-diversity-inclusion-mar2015.pdf What is left out of the report is significant: Artis v. Bernanke (now Yellen). Also 12 U.S.C. 244 needs Congressional attention to ensure that Title 5 of the U.S. Code applies to the Board; the Board’s record-keeping on, and reporting of, its internal management is lax.
National Credit Union Administration OIG-14-09 http://www.ncua.gov/about/Leadership/CO/OIG/Documents/OIG201409EqualOpportunityDiversity.pdf Click for blog post on this report
Securities and Exchange Commission 528 http://www.sec.gov/oig/reportspubs/528.pdf Report is thorough, thoughtful, and well done.

As for the testimony, Ms. Florine Williams, senior equal employment specialist, in the CFPB’s Office of Civil Rights, had to file a discrimination complaint herself about her mistreatment by her supervisor.

Also testifying was Mr. Robert Cauldwell, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, chapter 335, and examiner at the CFPB. Mr. Cauldwell submitted testimony about the bad management culture at the CFPB. However, there were questions from the dais about whether he had complaints of discrimination filed against him. In addition, there were questions about why he did not speak for the NTEU.

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