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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Warren and Brown question CFPB advisory opinion plans

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB U.S. Senate Fintech Consumer Finance

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On December 5, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown wrote a letter to CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger seeking information regarding the Bureau’s plans for a program to issue formal advisory opinions. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the CFPB in September announced three new policies to “improve how the Bureau exercises its authority to facilitate innovation and reduce regulatory uncertainty,” including the mention of an “advisory opinion program” in the final policy announcement for one of the new policies. According to the letter, the Senators have concerns that CFPB guidance issued through advisory opinions has the potential to “exempt companies from complying with consumer protection laws” and “allow political employees to unduly influence and restrict the application of the consumer laws.” The letter lays out a number of questions for Director Kraninger regarding the CFPB’s use of advisory opinions, including whether all opinions will be made public, whether the facts and circumstances leading to a request for an opinion will be investigated, whether all opinions will be in writing, and who will draft them. Specifically, the letter questions the role of political appointees “at each stage of the advisory opinion process.” The letter requests that the Bureau respond to the questions by December 19.

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