Washington D.C. – On Friday, Trump appointed U.S. District Judge J. Campbell “Cam” Barker ruled in favor of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and big bank trade groups that are seeking to reverse the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s crackdown on illegal discrimination in the financial industry. As government watchdog Accountable.US has documented, Judge Barker’s record reveals a bias he may hold against the CFPB, with potential conflicts of interest, industry sympathies, and a long history of defending discrimination.
In addition to arguing it is “fair” for the financial industry to discriminate based on race or religion, the baseless lawsuit rubber stamped by Barker raises similar dubious claims about the CFPB’s independent structure as the case that the U.S. Supreme Court will consider next month that was brought by predatory lenders and threatens to take away consumer protections from millions of Americans.
There is absolutely nothing ‘fair’ about the financial industry discriminating against Americans based on their race or religion,” said Liz Zelnick, Director of Accountable.US’ Economic Security & Corporate Power project. “It’s troubling that big banks consider denying basic services like bank accounts to people of color such a normal part of doing business that they would sue the CFPB to enshrine the scummy practice into law."
“In fact, the banking industry groups behind the lawsuit alone are led by banks with nearly $1 billion worth of fines and settlements stemming from discriminatory behavior against consumers. There is no better argument for why American consumers need a strong and independent CFPB to fight back against this kind of financial industry abuse and mistreatment. Unfortunately, in this case, industry found a sympathetic ear with a Trump-appointed judge with his own history of defending discrimination, along with potential conflicts of interests with some of the plaintiffs. The judge’s ruling was disappointing but not at all surprising.”
“This lawsuit, coupled with the case before the Supreme Court this term, is part of a long-running, well-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,” added Zelnick. “This is all about industry payback to the agency that has successfully recouped billions of ill-gotten dollars on behalf of hard-working families.”
Accountable.US has previously found that banking industry groups behind the lawsuit are led by companies 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. Many of these banks have even made hypocritical statements in support of racial justice and fighting discrimination, including Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America. Meanwhile, Accountable.US’ review of the U.S. Chamber’s leadership ranks identified at least nine of its most senior figures with 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.