April 7, 2014

Establishment Press Lets CFPB Whistleblower Story Alleging Harassment and Racism Stay Buried at Politico

The primary objection to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), created as part of the mammoth Dodd-Frank legislation passed in 2010, has been its unaccountability. It “is ensconced within the Federal Reserve,” which frees it from congressional and presidential oversight. Even the Fed “is statutorily prohibited from ‘intervening’ in CFPB affairs.”

It should surprise no one that Richard Cordray, the unaccountable agency’s director, seems to believe that he and his kingdom are untouchable. Cordray, a Democrat who not coincidentally has been mentioned as a possible down-the-road candidate to be Ohio’s governor, has, according to a whistleblower, presided over a “‘pervasive’ culture of intimidation and hostility within the bureau.” Further, according to the Washington Free Beacon’s coverage of the whistleblower’s testimony at a House Committee on Financial Services hearing, Cordray personally told the whistleblower “to have her attorneys ‘back down.’” a Wednesday story at the Politico by M.J. Lee represents nearly the full extent of establishment press coverage I could locate. Excerpts from Lee’s Politico story follow the jump.

The story is partially about racial discrimination. Also note that Democrats on the House committee actually questioned whether the whisteblower was trying to end the agency instead of pleading for relief from mistreatment (bolds are mine):

Employee alleges workplace of discrimination, retaliation at CFPB

ConsumerFPBlogo

Angela Martin, a lawyer in CFPB’s enforcement division, told a House Financial Services Subcommittee that there are a “trail of victims” at the agency who are afraid to speak out publicly.

… Martin made a series of inflammatory allegations about work life at the bureau. For instance, she said one division in CFPB’s consumer response division that is mostly staffed by African-American employees is internally referred to as “the plantation” or “cesspool.”

“African-Americans tell me that it’s extremely hard to leave the plantation,” Martin said, claiming that those employees do not have the same opportunity as others to be promoted.

The CFPB refused to send officials to testify … after Martin was named a witness, arguing the hearing would involve an individual claim that deals with sensitive and personal information about employees.

… Following the hearing, CFPB Director Richard Cordray struck a more contrite tone.

“I take seriously the concerns raised at today’s hearing and deeply apologize to any member of the CFPB staff who feels that they have not been heard or treated fairly,” Cordray said. “I welcome the opportunity to appear before Congress to discuss these issues fully.”

Martin also alleged that while a complaint she brought through the Equal Employment Opportunity process was being dealt with, she received a phone call from Cordray in August asking that she have her lawyers “back down” because he was trying to secure her a job in the bureau’s enforcement division. Martin contends she agreed to settle this complaint but then did not receive the job discussed because it had been given to somebody else.

… Several Democrats sought to have Martin distinguish her criticism of the CFPB work environment from its regulatory policies and mission.

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), the ranking member of the Oversight Subcommittee, pressed Martin to clarify that her goal is not to see the CFPB be eliminated.

The Google News search noted earlier in the post surfaced only one other establishment press story. It was out of Ohio, at the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Otherwise, coverage has been limited to specialty business publications and several center-right blogs. Separate searches at the Associated Press and the New York Times on Cordray’s last name each returned nothing relevant.

Thus, the story seems to fit an unfortunate pattern of appearing the Politico and staying buried there — and I do mean buried. For example, in the past six months, while Politico’s Alexa ranking has fallen, outfits like the Blaze continue to climb the charts and gain eyeballs.

If Cordray was in a Republican or conservative administration … oh, you know the rest.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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