Last week, we reported that Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, has called on the CFPB to end its closed-door meeting policy for its four advisory groups.  Those groups consist of the Community Bank Advisory Council, the Credit Union Advisory Council, the Academic Research Council, and the Consumer Advisory Board.

As a commenter on our blog post observed, the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board can be viewed as the successor to the Fed’s Consumer Advisory Council (CAC).  The CAC  was dissolved on
July 21, 2011, the designated transfer date upon which certain consumer protection functions were transferred from the Fed to the CFPB.  The commenter pointed out that the CAC was open and accessible to all, posted its agenda and work product, and had an accessible and courteous professional staff. 

In a related development, Republican Congressman Sean Duffy, also a member of the House Financial Services Committee, has introduced a bill, H.R. 4262, which would specify that the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) applies to all of the CFPB’s advisory groups.  The FACA imposes various requirements on advisory committees to federal agencies, including that committee meetings are presumptively open to the public with certain limited exceptions.  Both Reps. Hensarling and Duffy have asserted that the FACA currently applies to the CFPB’s advisory groups.  Rep. Duffy’s bill, entitled the “Bureau Advisory Committee Transparency Act,” would amend the Consumer Financial Protection Act (Title X of Dodd-Frank) to state that “notwithstanding any provision of the [FACA], such Act shall apply to each advisory committee of the Bureau.” 

According to Rep. Duffy’s press release, he asked to attend the meeting last month of the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board and his staff was told in an e-mail from the CFPB that “We cannot accommodate the Congressman’s request.” 

We would hope that Director Cordray will reconsider and change the CFPB’s policy so that this legislation will be unnecessary.