This week, we favorably settled our lawsuit over the Trump Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)'s creation of an illegal "TaskForce on Federal Consumer Financial Law." We called it a dangerous "Task Farce" from the get-go. We're happy that the Biden CFPB has returned the Consumer Bureau to its one job: protecting consumers.
The lawsuit was brought by the public interest law firm DemocracyForward.org on behalf of U.S. PIRG, the National Association of Consumer Advocates and Professor Kathleen Engel, an eminent scholar of consumer financial law who was interviewed, yet rejected for a seat on the "Taskforce." Instead, Trump's then-CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger stacked it with 5 representatives of the financial services industry, and no one else, as we explained in our coalition news release announcing the settlement earlier this week. The release goes on to say:
"We filed suit against the CFPB and Director Kathy Kraninger to hold them accountable for violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act. The agency failed to explain why the Taskforce was necessary, stacked it with only industry representatives, withheld its records, and kept the public out of its meetings.
"Each day, the thousands of people working within federal and state governments craft careful regulations that take into account the need to protect consumers without unduly restricting their options or hampering the financial and related industries. They use thoughtful research and analysis, not secretive deliberations and industry talking points, to perform their work. The [Biden] CFPB’s acknowledgment of the illegality of the Taskforce sends an important message that the agency is putting the rights of the consumer first. We commend the (Biden) CFPB for taking action on behalf of consumers and look forward to their continued efforts to protect American families.”
Kraninger announced the TaskForce in October 2019 and appointed its one-sided membership in early January 2020, in violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires numerous conditions, ignored by Kraninger, before setting up up a federal advisory committee. So, we sued in June 2020. The Task Farce carried out its secretive, illegal actions during the pandemic year of 2020 and filed its final two-part report and recommendations in early January of this year. A federal court denied the Trump administration’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit in February 2021. In August, we and other plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment urging the court to order all necessary relief to remedy the harms caused by the Taskforce and uphold the law. Then, the Biden CFPB agreed to our proposed settlement terms. You can learn more about the case here.