Consumer advocacy groups claim CFPB taskforce is illegally chartered
On June 16, several consumer advocacy groups filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against the CFPB claiming that the Bureau’s Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law was “illegally chartered” and violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). As previously covered by InfoBytes, the taskforce was established last year to examine the existing legal and regulatory environment facing consumers and financial services providers. As also covered by InfoBytes, the taskforce recently outlined its future plans, which include analyzing comments received from a March request for information, holding a public hearing, and participating in public listening sessions with the Bureau’s four advisory committees. The complaint argues, however, that the taskforce’s membership lacks balance, and that the appointed members who “uniformly represent industry views” have worked on behalf of several large financial institutions or work as industry consultants or lawyers. This composition, the consumer advocacy groups argue, undermines the purpose of the taskforce and is a violation of FACA and the Administrative Procedure Act. The complaint also states that while FACA requires advisory committee meetings to be open to the public and that records be disclosed, the taskforce has held closed-session meetings without providing public notice and has failed to make available any of the records related to these meetings or its other work.
The complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief and asks the court to (i) set aside the taskforce’s charter, all orders and decisions, and the appointments of the taskforce members; (ii) enjoin the taskforce from meeting, or otherwise conducting taskforce business; (iii) order the Bureau to immediately release all materials prepared for the taskforce; and (iv) enjoin the Bureau from relying upon taskforce recommendations or advice. The complaint also seeks costs and attorneys’ fees.