Earlier this week, a federal judge in Atlanta sanctioned the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for its conduct in a recent enforcement action against several debt collection agencies in Georgia and New York. U.S. District Judge Richard Story claimed that the CFPB “willfully violated” his repeated instructions to identify the factual basis for its claims against the agencies.
The CFPB’s enforcement agency dates back to 2015, when the agency sued a dozen debt collection entities and dept payment processors for allegedly collecting “phantom debts” from consumers. But, according to Story, the CFPB failed to provide enough proof. In his words, CFPB attorneys exhibited “blatant disregard” for judicial instructions. The federal judge proceeded to dismiss four payment processing companies from the CFPB’s case, exempting them from the agency’s continued overreach.
The decision comes at an inconvenient time for Director Richard Cordray, who is reportedly planning a 2018 run for governor in Ohio. At the same time, he’s directing his agency to ram through last-minute financial regulations hassling employers. The Republican Governors Association has suggested that Cordray is in violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits government officials from engaging in political activity. As we’ve covered before, Cordray’s political aspirations could translate to illegal activity—another blemish on the CFPB’s tarnished reputation.
Shoddy enforcement actions and political posturing. What else is new?