As Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra appears before Congress this week, government watchdog Accountable.US released reports on what is really motivating the latest legal attacks against the CFPB that could cost American consumers dearly. Accountable.US found numerous companies, executives and industry special interests linked to a recent lawsuit challenging the CFPB’s authority have troubling histories of discrimination or an axe to grind against the Bureau for successfully protecting consumers from abuse and mistreatment. [Read the reports HERE and HERE]. 

A lawsuit filed last September in the Eastern District of Texas by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and banking trade groups seeks to reverse the CFPB’s new crackdown on illegal discrimination in the financial industry – while raising dubious arguments about the CFPB’s structure and authority. Accountable.US found that banking industry groups behind the lawsuit are led by banks that have faced a wide array of controversies over discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability over the past decade. These interests have accumulated at least $961M in fines or settlements with regulators, consumer advocacy groups, and individuals harmed by their misconduct. Notably, many of these banks have made hypocritical statements in support of racial justice and fighting discrimination, including Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America. 

Accountable.US’ review of the U.S. Chamber’s leadership ranks found that at least nine of its most senior figures have relevant and concerning histories on racial discrimination that have likely influenced the group’s opposition to the CFPB’s enforcement efforts in the banking sector. For instance, 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.

Big banks suing the CFPB because they think it’s ‘fair’ for the financial industry to discriminate is one of the best arguments anyone can make for why consumers need the Bureau. This lawsuit is part of a long-running, organized effort by greedy industries and politicians in their pocket to defang, defund or do away with the CFPB because it works so well to protect consumers from schemes, scams and predatory behavior. This is all about industry payback to the agency that has successfully recouped billions of ill-gotten dollars on behalf of hard-working families. Pull back the curtain to see the U.S. Chamber is led by numerous individuals who enriched themselves working for institutions that consider discrimination against communities of color just a normal part of doing business. Now the Chamber is teaming up with industry special interests linked to nearly $1 billion worth of fines and settlements stemming from discriminatory behavior against consumers.

If the financial industry is allowed to slam the door on Americans seeking financial services on the basis of identity with impunity, it will keep many families from getting ahead. If the special interests successfully cripple the CFPB’s ability to protect all consumers, it will hold back the economy for everyone."

Liz Zelnick, Accountable.US’ Director of Economic Security and Corporate Power
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