Although the CFPB claims on its website that “Transparency is at the core of our agenda, and it is a key part of how we operate,” four of its advisory groups routinely conduct closed meetings. For example, the agenda
for last month’s meeting of the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board shows only two hours of open sessions. The meeting lasted 16 hours, spread over two days.
That’s not good enough, according to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas). Hensarling called on CFPB Director Richard Cordray to mark “Sunshine Week” – an initiative to promote open government – by opening CFPB committee meetings to the public.
“Instead of operating behind closed doors, it’s time for the CFPB to live up to its oft-stated commitment to transparency and openness,” Hensarling said. “In the interest of true, genuine transparency and open government, Director Cordray can and should use ‘Sunshine Week’ to take immediate steps that bring the CFPB into the sunlight.”
The Financial Services Committee has taken Cordray to task on the CFPB’s lack of transparency before. At a January meeting, committee member Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) asked Cordray why the agency wouldn’t allow the public to observe the meetings. Cordray responded that members of the advisory groups needed to be able to “speak candidly about matters that are not yet public that the Bureau is working on, including things like enforcement actions and the like.”
The head of the House Financial Services Committee is calling on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to end the closed-door meeting policy for the agency’s four advisory councils.