Welcome to “The Brief,” a monthly roundup of Democracy Forward’s latest work to hold the Trump administration accountable. Read on below for news of our victories, newest filings, latest case updates, and resources to learn more.

Fall into this month’s updates to take a gourd look at our cases challenging unlawful actions by the Trump administration’s financial regulatory agencies and the latest update on our challenge to the administration’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act.

Government can’t squash our lawsuits 🎃

Uncovering the unlawful, undisclosed meetings CFPB’s Taskforce held in violation of transparency laws

National Association of Consumer Associates et al. v. CFPB

Shocker: Our ongoing FOIA investigation into the Taskforce revealed that, far from operating transparently, as required by law, it was holding multiple closed-door meetings in February and March.

We also advanced our lawsuit against the CFPB’s illegal actions, detailing the many ways consumer advocates are harmed by the work of the industry-led Taskforce.

What is the Trump admin doing, again? The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created a Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law ostensibly to “improve” consumer finance laws and regulations. But the unlawful Taskforce is stacked with industry-aligned members, excludes consumer advocates, and operates behind closed doors — all in violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

We filed suit against the CFPB and Director Kathy Kraninger for violating federal law by failing to explain why the Taskforce is necessary, stacking it with industry interests, and keeping the public out of Taskforce meetings. Read more about the suit  →

Pressing forward with our suit against Trump admin over its dismantling of anti-redlining rules

National Community Reinvestment Coalition et al. v. OCC

The update: We filed our opposition to the Trump admin’s attempt to dismiss our lawsuit. Six organizations that serve neighborhoods in rural Indiana, the Deep South, California, and D.C. attested to the harms the rule will cause in written declarations submitted to the court.

What is the Trump admin doing, again? The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a new rule gutting the Community Reinvestment Act by reducing banks’ obligations to invest in low- and moderate-income communities and communities of color, contrary to the purpose of the CRA.

After forcing through the rule without the support of the Federal Reserve or FDIC (agencies OCC had previously worked with to issue joint CRA rules), Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting immediately resigned and returned to the private sector.

The rollback took effect yesterday, October 1st, eviscerating CRA requirements that motivate financial institutions to operate and reinvest in economically underserved communities. Read more about the suit  →

Ensuring the Trump admin follows court-ordered deadlines and releases small-biz lending proposal

California Reinvestment Coalition v. CFPB

Latest: We’ve been watching to ensure the agency carries out its legal obligations from our lawsuit to follow court-ordered deadlines and issue a long-overdue rule to protect small businesses and businesses owned by women and people of color.

On September 15th, as required, the CFPB delivered its outline of proposals to implement Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act: the collection and disclosure of data on lending to small businesses and businesses owned by women and people of color. The CFPB is required to convene a fair and balanced Small Business Advocacy Review panel next month with input from our clients. We’ll be following to make sure the Trump administration continues to do what the settlement agreement in our lawsuit requires.

What is the Trump admin doing, again? In 2018, the CFPB unlawfully reversed the progress it had made towards collecting Section 1071 data from financial institutions.

Lack of data frustrates the ability of businesses, financial institutions, and community organizations to address obstacles marginalized business-owners face to obtaining credit. Without Section 1071 data, institutions are unable to fully understand, let alone remedy, the extent to which discriminatory lending creates credit deserts for small businesses and businesses owned by women and minorities.

In February, we secured a victory on behalf of the California Reinvestment Coalition by getting court approval of a settlement that requires CFPB to commit to finalizing data collection rules on a court-enforced timeline. Read more about the suit  →

Raking in September wins 🏆

House committees join call for NOAA to resume scientific integrity inquiry into potential political interference

  • The House Natural Resources Committee and House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology sent a letter pressing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to explain alleged political interference in the agency’s protections for the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. Trump political appointees at NOAA allegedly weakened protections for the right whale, overruling career scientists.
  • In July, NOAA’s Scientific Integrity Committee indefinitely suspended an inquiry into this alleged political interference, which it had opened in response to our call for an investigation.
  • We pushed back in August, demanding that the Scientific Integrity Committee resume its inquiry and release its inquiry report. The House committees are likewise calling for accountability and scientific integrity.  🐋 →

Awards season! Democracy Forward lawyer honored by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

  • The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)  honored Democracy Forward Managing Senior Counsel Jeffrey Dubner with its Judicial Advocacy Initiative award for his work in leading ACS CAN and other public health groups in successful litigation that compelled the FDA to begin premarket reviewing of all new e-cigarette products.
  • Read more about Jeff’s victory in this case and the many more he’s working on right now, here →

In court reply, Trump admin concedes their sabotage of the ACA is harming cities

  • Amid continued reporting of Americans losing health coverage during the pandemic, the Trump administration replied to our lawsuit earlier this week and did not contest that their actions are causing harm to cities.
  • Trump’s crusade against affordable health care for all Americans has driven up premiums, increased the number of underinsured and uninsured individuals, and pushed consumers to junk plans that discriminate against people with preexisting conditions.
  • We’ve been talking about this case a lot, but that’s because our suit is unique in directly challenging the administration’s systematic and wholesale sabotage of the ACA. Read it here →