A report by the majority staff of the House Financial Services Committee concludes that there is a “valid and factual basis” for instituting contempt of Congress proceedings against Director Cordray. The report states that it was issued in furtherance of “the Committee’s on-going investigation into the CFPB’s arbitration rulemaking.”
The report recites the history of what the majority staff calls “the CFPB’s longstanding failure to fully comply with the Committee’s on-going oversight regard pre-dispute arbitration. The report describes the Committee’s request for records relating to the CFPB’s arbitration rulemaking issued in April 2016, the CFPB’s failure to produce the requested records, the subpoena issued by the Committee to Director Cordray in April 2017 requiring production of the requested arbitration-related records as well as documents requested by the Committee on other topics, and Director Cordray’s default on the subpoena.
The report focuses on the two specifications in the subpoena related to the arbitration rulemaking. One specification required production of “all documents relating to pre-dispute arbitration agreements between the CFPB and [specified consumer advocacy groups.]” The other specification required production of “all communications from one CFPB employee to another CFPB employee relating to pre-dispute arbitration agreements.” The majority staff provides a detailed explanation for their finding that Director Cordray has defaulted on the two specifications and that due to such default, there is “ample basis to proceed against [him] for contempt of Congress.”
Politico has reported that Jen Howard, a CFPB spokesperson, issued a written statement in which she indicated that the CFPB has “been working diligently to comply with the committee’s oversight on a number of fronts,” and “[o]n this particular matter, we have produced thousands of pages of documents thus far, and by next week we will have completely responded to one of the two specifications at issue.”
The Committee has not yet taken a contempt vote. We hope the report may help persuade Republican Senators who are reportedly undecided on how they will vote on the resolution introduced in the Senate to disapprove the CFPB’s arbitration rule under the Congressional Review Act to vote in favor of the resolution.