Washington D.C. – New Politico reporting found Trump-appointed 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Don Willett has personal conflicts of interest involving the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s lawsuit against the CFPB’s credit card late fee rule – a lawsuit Willett already issued opinions on including casting a deciding vote to reverse a recent decision by Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman to transfer their lawsuit to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after criticizing the U.S. Chamber for venue shopping. Politico reported Willett’s most recent financial disclosure report lists up to tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of shares in Citigroup, a bank greatly impacted by the CFPB’s action capping credit card late fees at $8 and that is also member of the trade groups behind the lawsuit including the U.S. Chamber, American Bankers Association and Consumer Bankers Association. Further Politico reporting revealed the 5th Circuit is “reach[ing] out” to parties with requests for letter briefs on whether “ownership in a large credit card issuer constitutes a conflict under code of conduct for federal judges.”  Government watchdog Accountable.US called for Judge Willett’s immediate recusal in the U.S. Chamber’s lawsuit. 

Judge Willett’s financial conflicts of interest in this case are clear – and if a judge has to hold a hearing to determine whether they actually have conflicts or are acting ethically, the decision should be made for you: recuse. Willett’s continued involvement in this case would only compound the conservative Fifth Circuit’s trend of lawless power grabs that benefit industry CEOs at the expense of everyday consumers. Rather than drag his feet seeking validation from big bank plaintiffs in this matter, Judge Willett should look at Judge O’Connor who recused himself in this same case after it was revealed he too had invested up to tens of thousands of dollars in credit card-issuing companies, including U.S. Chamber members.”

Accountable.US Executive Director Tony Carrk
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