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'Bureaucrats Gone Wild' . . . at CFPB

Thomas Lifson, publisher of American Thinker, reports that "nothing but the best" seems to be the watchword for the new headquarters for the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, created by Dodd-Frank (P.L. 111-203, July 21, 2010) . According to Lifson:

"It’s another case of bureaucrats gone wild, DC mandarins lavishing money on their own offices, and spending more per square foot on renovations to existing, perfectly usable office space than it cost to build lavish buildings like Trump World Tower and the Bellagio Hotel and Casino from scratch.  But hey, four story glass staircases and two story waterfalls and sunken gardens aren’t cheap.

"The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is one of the most powerful and least accountable agencies of the federal government. The intellectual spawn of Senator Elizabeth Warren created by the ill-considered Dodd-Frank law of 2010, when Democrats controlled Congress, the CFPB has broad powers to regulate the financial industry, and is completely unaccountable to Congress’s budgetary powers because its funding comes from the Federal Reserve, the good folks who print money.

"As can be expected from such an agency, it is feathering its own nest lavishly. In this case, the nest is rented quarters in Washington, DC, that the agency is paying to renovate to its very high and politically correct standards. Mind you the quarters were perfectly fine for the use of the Office of Thrift Supervision, but when you are Lord of the Financial Markets, nothing but the very best will do."

Lifson provides a link to a report from the Federal Reserve's Inspector General. He quotes from the House Financial Services Committee summary of the report:

"The cost of renovating the CFPB’s rented headquarters has spiraled to more than $215 million – $65 million more than the agency’s estimate just six months ago and $120 million more than last year’s estimate, according to the Federal Reserve’s Inspector General. (emphasis added)

"It also equals more than $590 per square foot being renovated at the CFPB’s rented headquarters.  That means the CFPB is spending much more per square foot than it cost to build the Trump World Tower ($334/square foot), the Bellagio Hotel and Casino ($330/square foot) and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai ($450/square foot). (emphasis added)

"The renovation project has been mired in controversy.  For more than a year, members of the House Financial Services Committee have questioned CFPB officials about its rising cost, about why an agency that is renting a building is paying for renovations in the first place, and the extravagance of such features as a four-story glass staircase, two-story waterfall and sunken garden.

"“When they passed the Dodd-Frank Act, Democrats in Congress and the White House made the CFPB unaccountable to taxpayers and to Congress.  We’re seeing the results of this dangerous unaccountability today in a Washington bureaucracy that is running amok, spending as much as it wants on whatever it wants.  It’s outrageous,” said Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)."

And here's a surprise. Not! From the committee's summary Lifson quotes, "The CFPB “was unable to locate any documentation of the decision to fully renovate the building.” (page 6 of the report)"

But it gets worse. Lifson reports that "(w)hile the Inspector General reports the current estimated cost of CFPB’s building renovation is $215.8 million, the building was appraised in 2011 for just $153.7 million, according to an audit report released by the Treasury."

The Washington Examiner also reported on the rising cost of the CFPB headquarters. Richard Pollock writes:

"House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, said the IG’s findings were “outrageous.”

“When they passed the Dodd-Frank Act, Democrats in Congress and the White House made the CFPB unaccountable to taxpayers and to Congress,” Hensarling said in a written comment.

“We’re seeing the results of this dangerous unaccountability today in a Washington bureaucracy that is running amok, spending as much as it wants on whatever it wants. It’s outrageous,” he said."

And this agency is supposed to provide oversight over Wall Street and protect consumers? Sheesh!

Readers of Growls who are upset about the out-of-control cost of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) headquarters are urged to call or write their Congressional representatives (available at Thomas; use left-hand column). Readers living in Virginia's Arlington County, should contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Jim Moran (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

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