In a recent National Review op-ed column, Ronald Rubin, a former enforcement attorney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), chronicled the CFPB’s formation and regulatory agenda. He also took us behind the scenes of the agency’s appalling hiring process:
As screening techniques improved, Republicans were more easily identified and rejected. Political discrimination was not necessarily illegal, but attempts to hide it invited prohibited race, gender, religion, and age discrimination. In retrospect, the Office of Enforcement’s hiring process, which was typical for the bureau, violated more laws than a bar-exam hypothetical.
The CFPB seems to have been successful in keeping Republicans out of the agency—research shows that every political donation made by a CFPB employee in 2016 was given to a Democratic candidate.
Speaking of racial discrimination:
Applicants who had represented financial-industry clients were routinely rejected, depriving the bureau of critical expertise and business perspective. A memorable exception sought to become only the second African-American female enforcement attorney. Following an hour-long debate that would have doomed most applicants, her verdict was postponed pending additional interviews. Her prospects looked good at a subsequent meeting until someone expressed concerns over her frequent use of the F word. She survived a second excruciating hour of debate, and worked for the CFPB just long enough to become a partner at a big law firm.
White men over 40 received the opposite treatment. One attorney’s résumé was so spectacular that interviewers struggled to come up with plausible excuses to reject him. Finally, someone blurted out, “For the love of God, don’t hire him!” Cordray, who always spoke last, had no choice. He asked that the rejection letter be delayed until he could call the Supreme Court justice who had left a voicemail recommending the man.
And then there’s the reign of Kent Marcus as the CFPB’s enforcement director from 2012 to 2015. (He’s now a counselor in Director Richard Cordray’s office.) See here:
Markus, the new enforcement chief, exacerbated hiring biases by soliciting anonymous oral comments about colleagues competing for twelve mid-level supervisor positions. Similar illegal practices throughout the bureau resulted in a dearth of real-world experience, and then socialistic management schemes camouflaged by new-age nomenclature.
Bias. Illegality. Socialism. CFPB.