Washington D.C. – Today, corporate watchdog Accountable.US challenged the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to be honest about why they really launched a “six-figure” misinformation campaign aimed at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra. It is clear they are doing the dirty work of some of their members, the big bank corporate interests that help fund them that have a history of consumer mistreatment and a political ax to grind against the Bureau after getting caught. Accountable.US released an analysis today showing the Chamber’s anti-Chopra campaign follows at least $2.6 billion in CFPB settlements or fines filed against some of the Chamber’s most prominent financial service industry members since the Bureau’s creation, as well as recently filed lawsuits brought under Director Chopra over the last several months.
Tellingly, one of biggest supposed sins the Chamber claims Chopra has committed, according to their press announcement, is the Director’s criticism of “junk fees” – highly abusive, often-hidden fees and penalties (like a $35 overdraft charge on a gallon of milk) that disproportionately prey on the poor, which the CFPB has pledged to crack down on. Accountable.US previously found seven major banks, including Chamber-member TD Bank, raked in $1.2 billion worth of overdraft and non-sufficient fund fees in 2021 – amounting to over 12% of the nearly $10 billion in profits they made in the same year. The excess profits on the backs of vulnerable families came despite pledges from several big banks to eliminate overdraft fees in 2021 and late 2022 amid growing scrutiny from Congress and the Biden administration — and after the industry reported a staggering $15.5 billion in revenue in 2019 from such fees.
The U.S. Chamber loves to pretend to represent everyday working Americans while they frequently do the dirty work of their greedy corporate funders like big banks that have a history of fleecing consumers. While this is a clear case of political payback against the CFPB for doing its job of protecting consumers, the Chamber also admits that the agency’s crack down of abusive junk fees is what set off this well-funded smear campaign. The Chamber defends excessive overdraft penalties and predatory hidden fees that sap billions of dollars from the pockets of average Americans, yet they still want to be taken seriously as stewards of the economy? Their six-figure hit job would have been better spent protecting the interests of small business owners they purport to help.”
Liz Zelnick, spokesperson for Accountable.US.
The U.S. Chamber calls itself the ‘world’s largest business federation’, and thanks to the financial support it receives from major corporations like junk-fee-abusing TD Bank, it has spent a staggering $1.6 billion lobbying the federal government and given over $116 million to political candidates since 1998 — mostly to Republicans and conservatives.
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