(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Court Rejects Trump Admin’s Effort to Avoid Accountability for Unlawful CFPB Taskforce.
A federal court denied the Trump administration’s motion to dismiss and ruled that the lawsuit is not moot. The court affirmed that the harms suffered by the consumer advocates “can be redressed by a use injunction, prohibiting the Defendants from relying on the report. … In the alternative, the Court could require the Defendants to attach a disclaimer to the report stating that it was produced in violation of FACA.”Learn More
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau created a Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law ostensibly to “modernize” consumer finance laws and regulations but excluded consumer protection experts. In selecting the Task Force’s membership, the CFPB rejected the applications of many consumer protection experts and advocates, including Suffolk Law Professor Kathleen Engel — a prominent scholar of consumer law and finance who has sat on the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board — and University of Minnesota Law Professor Prentiss Cox, who sat on the Bureau’s inaugural Consumer Advisory Board.
Instead, the Taskforce is stacked with members who have championed deregulation and opposed consumer protection measures, raising serious concerns that it will work against consumers’ interests. The industry-aligned advisory committee excludes consumer advocates, does not serve a public interest, and has conducted its work behind closed doors — all in violation of federal law.
“The Federal Consumer Financial Law Taskforce is the latest effort by a Trump appointee to outsource policymaking to private interests while excluding other voices. We’ve stopped them before, and we’re asking the court to stop them here. In the midst of an economic downturn, the CFPB should not be excluding consumer advocates from key policymaking conversations about how to protect American families.”
– Anne Harkavy, Democracy Forward Executive Director
We filed suit against the CFPB and Director Kathy Kraninger for violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act by failing to explain why the Taskforce is necessary, stacking it with only industry interests, and keeping the public out of Taskforce meetings. We’re representing the National Association of Consumer Advocates, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), and consumer law expert Professor Kathleen Engel.
The suit was filed on June 16, 2020, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. David A. Nicholas of Wolf Popper LLP is Massachusetts counsel on the case.
In the News
American Banker / June 16, 2020
Bloomberg Law / September 15, 2020
Barron's / November 2, 2020
May 7, 2020
We sued for FOIA records of the Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law.
The CFPB plays an essential role in ensuring consumers are protected against predatory financial schemes, and the public deserves a full accounting of why anti-consumer advocates are now advising the agency behind closed doors.Learn More
June 16, 2020
We filed this lawsuit on behalf of consumer protection advocates.
August 31, 2020
Records produced from the Taskforce FOIA suit reveal numerous closed-door meetings held in February and March alone.
Far from operating transparently, the Taskforce has not provided public notice of all its meetings, held all its meetings in public, or made its work available for the public to view. The failure to operate transparently denies NACA, U.S. PIRG, and Professor Engel the ability to monitor the Taskforce’s activities and educate advocates and consumers about potential changes to the consumer financial protection landscape.Learn More
September 15, 2020
We advanced our lawsuit ahead of the CFPB's public listening session.
The CFPB unlawfully created the Taskforce — stacking it with industry representatives eager to roll back consumer protection measures — and has unlawfully allowed the Taskforce to insulate itself from public scrutiny. Try as it might, Director Kraninger’s CFPB can’t ignore the fact that its attempt to outsource policymaking to champions of deregulation is unlawful. We’ll continue our fight to ensure the CFPB follows the law and shutters its Taskforce.Learn More
January 5, 2021
The Taskforce releases its report. The following day, we appeared in court.Learn More
January 13, 2020
We argue the release of the unlawful Taskforce’s report does not moot the lawsuit and Defendants must still be held accountable for flouting federal law.Learn More
- FOIA Complaint (05/07/20) (pdf / 159 KB)
- Complaint as Filed (06/16/20) (pdf / 693 KB)
- Attached Exhibits (06/16/20) (pdf / 29 MB)
- Select Taskforce FOIA Production (08/31/20) (pdf / 43 MB)
- Opposition to Gov. Motion to Dismiss (9/14/20) (pdf / 781 KB)
- Supplemental Brief on Mootness (01/12/21) (pdf / 407 KB)