SUMMARY: The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce, the “world’s largest business organization,” is lead plaintiff in a major banking industry lawsuit against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) anti-discrimination enforcement policies. The Chamber has claimed that “‘the CFPB is pursuing an ideological agenda,’” even though consumer advocates have noted that “consumers of color have long faced discrimination” in financial services.
Notably, the U.S. Chamber’s membership includes Wells Fargo, which is known for its “historically racist treatment of Black customers.” Wells Fargo’s top lobbyist is currently William M. Daley, a former Obama and Clinton White House figure who helped create a U.S. Chamber center that had a “prominent role in attacking” consumer protections in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. While a top JPMorgan executive, Daley also lobbied the Obama White House against creating the CFPB while his bank had a $30 billion subprime mortgage business.
An Accountable.US review of the U.S. Chamber’s leadership ranks has found that at least nine of its most senior figures have concerning histories on race and discrimination that have likely influenced the group’s opposition to the CFPB’s efforts to counter bias in the banking sector. These figures include:
- U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne Clark is on the board of credit reporting agency TransUnion, which has been criticized for its central role in perpetuating “systemic racial injustice” and inequality, and was sued by the CFPB in April 2022 for violating a January 2017 settlement agreed to just six months before Clark joined the board. In response to this lawsuit, TransUnion attacked the “CFPB’s current leadership” for “seek[ing] headlines through press releases and tweets.”
- U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President for Strategic Advocacy Jack Howard worked for former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) when he used “racist undertones” to push back on welfare programs and for former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), who was forced to resign as Majority Leader after he strongly praised the late segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) at his birthday party.
- Lisa A. Rickard is U.S. Chamber EVP and counselor to its president, according to her LinkedIn profile, and has led its Institute for Legal Reform, where she complained about the CFPB’s action against Ally Bank’s discriminatory auto lending practices that harmed about 300,000 consumers of color.
- U.S. Chamber SVP and President of its Global Energy Institute Martin “Marty” Durbin was EVP and Chief Strategy Officer for the American Petroleum Institute as it blamed “genetics” and other factors for the harm oil pollution does to minority communities and he has publicly promoted the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, both condemned for environmental racism.
- U.S. Chamber board member and treasurer Gerald L. Shaheen was Group President of Caterpillar, which has faced multiple racial discrimination lawsuits since Shaheen left the company, including one which said a manager made “references to lynching and ‘planet of the apes.’”
- U.S. Chamber SVP and President of its foundation Carolyn Cawley was a Deputy Director for former Republican California Governor Pete Wilson, whose notorious “anti-diversity” legacy included bans against affirmative action, bilingual education, and public services for undocumented immigrants.
- U.S. Chamber Board member Brackett Denniston was a longtime executive for General Electric, which settled for $14 million in multiple racial discrimination lawsuits during his time with the company.
- U.S. Chamber Executive Committee member Thomas Wilson Jr. is the Chairman, President, and CEO of the Allstate Insurance Company, which has given over $700,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee and state lawmakers which have led voter suppression efforts.
U.S. Chamber Executive Committee member Chris Womack is the current Chairman, President, and CEO of Georgia Power and former Executive Vice President for Southern Company, utilities companies which have given over $420,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee and state lawmakers which have led voter suppression efforts.