WASHINGTON, DC — As the popular and successful Consumer Financial Protection Bureau faces its gravest threat to date in the U.S. Supreme Court under a lawsuit brought by predatory lenders, government watchdog Accountable.US launched its ‘Defend American Consumers’ project that answers the question: Who are the shady special interests and conflicted lawmakers trying to take away consumer protections from millions of Americans, and what’s in it for them?
DefendAmericanConsumers.org serves as a research hub for the project, helping the public pull back the curtain on key players out to defang, defund and destroy the CFPB for their own selfish gain: from predatory lenders that want no regulation of their abusive triple-digit interest loans; to right-wing billionaires, like Paul Singer, with relationships with conservative Supreme Court Justices and a financial stake in the CFPB case; to MAGA lawmakers eager to deliver on a long-time priority of their financial industry mega-donors that have lobbied against the CFPB since its inception. The project is backed with a paid video effort on social media beginning today.
Consumer protections for millions of Americans are under assault, and leading the charge are payday lenders notorious for trapping consumers in debt with triple-digit interest rates. Putting the CFPB out of commission has been a long-time dream of bad actors in the financial industry that want to cheat, trick, and rip off consumers with impunity in pursuit of higher profits. The CFPB has been so successful returning money to victims of financial industry abuse because it is free from political influence -- which is exactly why predatory lenders, greedy billionaires and conflicted lawmakers want to rob the agency of its independence.”
Caroline Ciccone, President of Accountable.US.
“No one loves the distraction of a potential MAGA Government Shutdown more than the special interests determined to leave consumers vulnerable through this baseless lawsuit,” added Ciccone.
CFSA The First-In-Focus: The project’s first entry is a robust examination of the Community Financial Services Association of America, the top trade group for the payday loan industry and plaintiff in the Supreme Court lawsuit challenging the CFPB’s authority and independence. It shows how lenders that sit on the CFSA board have been fined or settled lawsuits with federal regulators and have a history of contributing to Republican lawmakers who have sided with industry in its attack against the Bureau. All told, Accountable.US found CFSA board member companies, and their affiliated subsidiaries and parent companies, have paid over $204 million in fines and restitution to federal and state regulators, while paying at least $3.4 million in settlements from class action lawsuits against them.
Additionally, CFSA has contributed a combined $96,000 to Republican members on the House Financial Services Committee (HFSC) and Senate Banking Committee who signed a July 2023 amicus brief supporting the CFSA’s challenge against the CFPB. Among the top recipients of these contributions are staunch anti-CFPB Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), current HFSC Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC).
At Issue: On October 3rd, the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments from the top trade group for predatory lenders that are seeking to kill the CFPB’s independent funding structure and allow for Congressional opponents who prioritize financial industry donations over consumers to take out the agency that has successfully returned billions of dollars to victims of financial industry fraud and abuse. The financial industry has spent millions of dollars lobbying to weaken the CFPB since its inception and donated millions more to conservative Members of Congress hostile towards the nation’s leading consumer advocate.
What’s At Stake: The payday loan industry’s lawsuit against the CFPB has nothing to do with upholding the constitution and everything to do with obstructing the agency that holds the financial industry accountable when they harm consumers. If the Supreme Court sides with predatory lenders, that will likely mean the agency’s future funding will be beholden to the political whims of Congress. There is little doubt a U.S. House of Representatives made up of lawmakers openly hostile to the CFPB — like the current MAGA Majority — would zero-fund the agency the first chance they get on behalf of their financial industry donors. For instance, former MAGA Congressman turned Trump CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney literally requested $0 for the agency during his tenure.
In one fell swoop, an anti-CFPB-led Congress could cut the purse strings and erase over a decade of consumer protections and rules that have made our markets fairer and more stable. It would be catastrophic for consumers, honest businesses that simply want to compete fairly, and the stability of financial markets. It is clear the CFPB’s independent funding structure has allowed it to be so effective in delivering results for consumers precisely because it can avoid outside political influence. The CFPB’s critics know this, too, which is why they have gone all-in on a highly-coordinated legal and political strategy pinpointing the Bureau’s funding structure.