This is unbelievable and just wrong. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been sending out solicitations for personal financial information and stories with official IRS correspondence, including refund letters and checks.
Worse, the Government Accountability Office found that the CFPB spent a higher percentage of its budget on public relations activities than any other federal entity examined, except for the Peace Corps.
This comes to our attention by way of a letter Republican Senators Mike Enzi, Wyo., Ron Johnson, Wis., James Lankford, Okla., Mike Rounds, S.D., John Kennedy, La., and Johnny Isakson, Ga., sent to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking him to end the inappropriate CFPB public relations piggybacking by including CFPB flyers in taxpayer refunds sent by the IRS:
We do not believe the CFPB has the authority to use the IRS as a conduit to solicit Americans’ stories about money. Additionally, since the CFPB is funded by a transfer of non-appropriated funds from the Federal Reserve System’s combined earnings, we question whether it is appropriate to use taxpayer dollars . . . to advertise the CFPB, . . . the CFPB is supposed to be an independent organization, we do not believe the Treasury Department should be soliciting information on behalf of the entity. We respectfully request that Treasury’s Bureau of Fiscal Service curtail this practice . . . .
You can read the entire letter here.
The CFPB is lead by the politically ambitious Richard Cordray, who served as Ohio’s treasurer from 2007-2009 and as its attorney general from 2009-2011 and lost his reelection campaign to the state’s current attorney general, former Republican Sen. Mike DeWine. Cordray is a potential 2018 Ohio Democrat gubernatorial candidate. The Associated Press reports that Democrats see a Cordray candidacy not only as a shot at winning the governorship but as a chance to make the race a referendum on Trump, though he won the state by eight percentage points last November.
Last October, as reported by the Atlantic, the United States Court of Appeals for the Washington D.C. Circuit found the structure of the CFPB to be unconstitutional. The court took issue with the inability for other arms of the government to review or rebuke the Bureau’s judgements or actions and the unilateral power imbued in the CFPB director Cordray:
The Director enjoys significantly more unilateral power than any single member of any other independent agency. By “unilateral power,” we mean power that is not checked by the President or by other colleagues. Indeed, other than the President, the Director of the CFPB is the single most powerful official in the entire United States Government, at least when measured in terms of unilateral power . . . more power and autonomy than the speaker of the house, senate majority leader, or even a Supreme Court justice.
After the election, the CFPB challenged the decision by asking for a rehearing by the entire Court. Last month the Justice Department told the Court that President Donald J. Trump should have the authority to fire Cordray.