Financial services firms looking for a powerful ombudsman may have found their guy. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) told financial services executives that if they encounter examples of regulatory overreach from regulators like the CFPB, they should contact his office and tell him all about it.
Duffy, speaking at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions’ Congressional Caucus this week, said that Congress has too little insight or oversight into what federal regulators are doing in the financial services space. The Congressman, who has made a name for himself as a regulatory watchdog in the last few years, made sure to single out the CFPB for its “Washington mentality,” that it assumes that anyone set on making profit in the financial services industry must also intend to bamboozle customers. He also expressed concern that Federal agencies like the CFPB have the power to shut down businesses just because they don’t like them.
“And the worst part is that Congress has no real effective oversight over [the CFPB],” Duffy added, as quoted today in the Credit Union Times. “If they do something wrong that causes you real pain, you might call your senator or congressman. But what can they do on your behalf? Write a letter!”
Congress may not have the ability to help now, but financial services executives should have faith in Congressional debate and the long-run process, he said.
“Don’t disregard the importance of hearings,” Duffy added. “Even if the legislation may not pass today, don’t be discouraged. There is a long-game and the hearings lay the groundwork for what we might be able to do under a new administration.”
The Wisconsin Congressman has been a remarkably consistent critic of the CFPB and, specifically, its tendency towards what he considers overly secretive behavior.
After the CFPB rebuffed his efforts to attend one of their advisory board meetings, he introduced, in 2013, a bill that would have forced the CFPB to comply with the “Federal Advisory Committee Act” (FACA) and open advisory board meetings to the public. The CFPB subsequently announced that meetings would be open to the public and available to stream live via the internet. When the CFPB reversed course and again closed their meetings, Duffy reintroduced the bill.
He also introduced several bills aimed at the CFPB this spring, including the “Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Accountability Act of 2015” and the “CFPB Pay Fairness Act of 2015.”