The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was formed in 2011, ever since then the CFPB has been squarely in the targets of a wide range of financial institutions. There are active members of the Senate – Republicans for the most part – who are trying with all their might to get it shut down completely. They haven’t been able to so far, which has many of them working around the clock to rein the bureau in, so to speak. So here we are, about five years after the CFPB opened its doors and there are even more groups out that are making it their top priority to eliminate this arm of the federal government.
A 501(c) group called Protect America’s Consumers, which got incorporated in the winter of 2015, has been described as a “… firm that specializes in untraceable pressure groups for conservative causes. Back in 2012, the firm was reportedly tied to some groups that had dumped about $250 million into the election that year. In 2015, they represented a PAC called ‘Pursuing America’s Greatness’, before a U.S. District Court to fight for its right to use Mike Huckabee’s name in communications. One partner in this outfit, Jill Vogel, happens to be a senator in Virginia. The law firm that backs this operation up is called Holtzman, Vogel, Josefiak Torchinsky. Vogel’s website calls the firm “a law firm that specializes in charity and nonprofit organizations, election law, and ethics.”
They are not the only group that seems to be interested in taking down the CFPB. Though it has no official ties to Protect America’s Consumers, the U.S. Consumer Coalition (USCC) is squarely anti-CFPB. This group has even called PAC an “attempt to trade on USCC’s successful CFPB reform campaign, the Consumer Protection Initiative.” This is likely because Protect America’s Consumers runs ads that have been seen as controversial. They have accused the CFPB of spending too much money on renovations and even made allegations of racism within the bureau. An ad the group runs on YouTube says, “The intentions of the CFPB were good.”
Because Protect America’s Consumers is a not for profit, there is not a lot known about who really runs this group. It has put out press releases that list a “Steve Gates” as the official spokesperson. Gates used to be the senior communications director for a group called the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. This group has a long history of spending millions lobbying in Washington. According to the website Mother Jones:
“ACCCE is best known for its ties to Bonner & Associates, the lobbying firm that got caught sending forged letters to Democratic members of Congress this summer. The letters, putatively written on behalf of military veterans and local chapters of civil rights groups, opposed the Waxman-Markey energy bill. In late October, congressional investigators found that ACCCE knew that Bonner was sending out phony letters on its behalf, but waited to tip off lawmakers until after they’d voted on the bill.”
Even though groups like this might fly under the radar, they have something in common with very well-known Republican and Democrat leaders – they are looking to drastically change the way that things are done at the CFPR or to potentially get rid of the bureau once and for all. Each opponent of the CFPB might take a different approach than others, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – especially its director, Richard Cordray, have to be feeling like they are catching grief from all sides. Then again, if this watchdog group had truly operated like a consumer protection group, and not like one with an axe to grind against legitimate businesses and financial providers, they might not be in this situation.