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May 15, 2014 - 3:45pm

Unaccountable Consumer Protection Agency Will Blow $400,000 on Summer Meeting

Senior Editor, Digital Content


Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.
Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.
Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) may be charged with watching over the consumer financial industry, but watching over its own spending doesn't appear to be a top priority.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that the agency will spend nearly $400,000 on an all-staff Washington, D.C. conference this summer:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is planning an “all hands” meeting for its more than 1,300 employees at a hotel in Washington, D.C., this summer, with cost estimates nearing $400,000.

The agency will book up to 475 hotel rooms each night for a five-day conference in July. The CFPB issued a solicitation on Friday, which included an attachment with the agency’s request for hotel accommodations.

At the per diem rate, which is listed at $167 for each room, the government is planning to spend $329,825 on hotel rooms for the meeting.

Add to the lodging, $34,200 for lunches along with almost $26,000 for morning and afternoon snacks.

While it’s debatable whether the agency is doing a good job protecting consumers, apparently the CFPB knows how to spend money.  The Wall Street Journal reported in January:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s director, Richard Cordray, came under fire Tuesday on Capitol Hill for what Republicans characterized as a lavish plan to renovate property located on G Street near the White House.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb. Hensarling (R., Texas) questioned why renovating the building had soared to $145.1 million from a prior estimate of $95 million, according to a December financial report from the regulator. The regulator’s employees are expected to move to temporary space while the renovation work is being completed.

Mr. Hensarling compared the agency’s renovation of the late-1970s-era building, on a cost-per-square foot basis, to the Trump World Tower in New York, Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai—the tallest building in the world.

“Explain to me, Mr. Director, why I should be–why I shouldn’t be outraged, and why the American people shouldn’t be outraged,” he said.

At the hearing, CFPB Director Richard Cordray merely said that it had to be done.

Regardless of whether this spending is prudent or not, the problem is that the CFPB can spend money at will without adequate accountability.

The CFBP isn’t funded by Congressional appropriations (it’s funded by the Federal Reserve), so Congress lacks the ability to use its power of the purse to adequately oversee the agency. In January, Rep. Jeb Henserling (R-TX), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said the CFPB is “Fundamentally unaccountable to Congress because the bureau’s funding is not subject to appropriations” and thus “remains unaccountable to the American people.”

It’s like a college student getting a credit card with an unlimited spending limit and having the bills sent home to her parents. The chances for irresponsible spending are high.

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About the Author

Sean Hackbarth standing in front of oil pumps near Baker, Montana.
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean has written for various Chamber properties since 2012. In 1999, Sean launched a “weblog” and never looked back, becoming a self-proclaimed pioneer of the medium.

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