A group of consumer advocates sued the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Director Kathy Kraninger on Tuesday, alleging they created a task force that does not serve the public interest and has secretly conducted its work in violation of federal law.
The plaintiffs – including the National Association of Consumer Advocates, U.S. Public Interest Research Group and consumer law Professor Kathleen Engel – allege the task force is “stacked with industry-aligned members, excludes consumer advocates, does not serve a public interest, and has conducted its work behind closed doors.” The lawsuit seeks to prevent the task force from operating.
“A group of hand-picked industry lawyers and consultants that meets behind closed doors — with no consumer advocates or disparate points of view — is more appropriately called a task farce. But this task farce is no joke,” U.S. PIRG Senior Director of Federal Consumer Programs Ed Mierzwinski said. “Not only is CFPB breaking the law, their actions continue to be dangerous for consumer protection.”
The CFPB did not immediately respond to a request for comment after business hours. In October, the CFPB announced the creation of the “Task Force on Federal Consumer Financial Law,” saying it would “examine ways to harmonize and modernize federal consumer financial laws.”
Board members announced in January include Dr. J. Howard Beales, III; Dr. Thomas Durkin, Senior Economist (Retired) at the Federal Reserve Board; L. Jean Noonan, Partner at Hudson Cook; Todd J. Zywicki (task force chair), Professor of Law at George Mason University (GMU) Antonin Scalia Law School and Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute; and William MacLeod, the former Bureau Director at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
“An objective and independent evaluation of our current regulatory framework to identify where there may be gaps or where regulation should be simplified or modernized is needed to help us more effectively carry out our mission of protecting consumers,” Kraninger said at the time. “As we work to set up the taskforce, we encourage interested individuals to apply to be considered to be part of the taskforce.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
“The CFPB’s unlawful creation of this task force is just the latest cynical attempt by the agency’s leadership to undermine our nation’s necessary consumer protections,” said Ira Rheingold, Executive Director for National Association of Consumer Advocates. “Coming at a critical moment in our country when consumers will need more protection, not less, this task force — filled with industry apologists — is the last group of people we should be looking to for consumer protection advice.”