Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) called on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to end its closed-door meeting policy during the Financial Services Commitee’s most recent Sunday Message.
“Though the CFPB touts itself as a model of transparency, it actually shuts out the press, members of Congress, and most importantly, the American public,” he said.
The impetus for the message’s call for action is Sunshine Week, a national initiative held each March advocating for public education on the importance of open government. The initiative has links with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, a sunshine law passed in 1972 that applies to nearly every federal agency with the exception of the CFPB and certain other agencies, mostly intelligence or security-related.
The CFPB says on its website that transparency is at the core of how the bureau operates, Hensarling pointed out, but meetings among the four advisory groups created by the bureau are held behind closed doors.
“The CFPB has even gone so far as to instruct its employees to hinder efforts aimed at informing the public about the bureau’s work,” Hensarling said during the Sunday Message. “This is completely unacceptable and further proves that the CFPB is unaccountable to the very people it is supposed to serve.”
At a January hearing, CFPB director Richard Cordray said those meetings are closed to the public so the bureau can “speak candidly about matters that are not yet public that the bureau is working on, including things like enforcement actions and the like.”
The director has not yet responded to Hensarling’s statement that Cordray should use Sunshine Week to take steps that would bring the CFPB “into the sunlight. “
“The CFPB is arguably the most powerful and least accountable agency in all of the federal government,” Hensarling said. “The American people deserve better.”
Watch the FSC Sunday Message on YouTube.
Written by Alyssa Gerace