CFPB Pressed on ‘Opaque’ Media Tactics

February 23, 2017

Several members of Congress shared concerns about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) use of midnight embargos to pre-selected media outlets in advance of releasing public information.

In a letter to Director Richard Cordray, the members of Congress said the bureau’s “aggressive and opaque media tactics” do not help its mandate to protect consumers.

“The bureau must be more balanced and transparent in its communication,” the letter stated. “A close-hold media embargo violates that balance and transparency by delivering important news in the middle of the night to pre-selected media outlets ahead of the general public.”

The letter asked Cordray to answer the following questions:

  1. What is the bureau’s justification for using a “close-hold embargo”? Why is the embargo often lifted at 12:00 a.m.
  2. How does such a midnight embargo advance the bureau’s consumer protection mandate?
  3. What controls must the bureau adhere to prevent the leaking of sensitive information? Have there been any violations of these controls?
  4. Under what circumstances does the bureau believe it would be in violation of law for leaking via close-hold embargo, certain sensitive information such as rulemakings, enforcement actions, studies and prepared remarks?

Members of Congress who signed the letter include U.S. Reps. Randy Hultgren, Dave Trott, Barry Loudermilk, Dennis A. Ross, Roger Williams, Robert Pittenger, Keith Rothfus and Andy Barr.

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