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Washington, D.C. – Americans cannot tell the government they don’t want their personal financial information collected or stored. That was the message U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., shared when he spoke against the nomination of Richard Cordray to be the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) during a speech on the Senate floor today. Enzi expressed concerns with approving a director to the bureau before the lack of congressional oversight and the blatant privacy intrusions being undertaken by the CFPB are addressed. Excerpts from Enzi’s speech are below.   

“I’m sure you’d like to hear me tell you that you can call or write to the CFPB and say you don’t want the CFPB collecting your financial records from your bank, your student loan information from a third party provider and your mortgage data.  I’m sorry to say that you can’t.  If your data is being collected, you do not have the option to opt out, nor does the CFPB need any kind of permission from you to gather your personal financial information.” 

“The Dodd-Frank Act was sold to the public as a way to rein in Wall Street, but as far as I can tell, it’s turned out to be the perfect excuse for Big Brother to worm his way even further into our lives and our privacy.  Actually, Big Brother doesn’t have to worm his way in – we’re opening the door and inviting him in.  That’s what this lack of oversight is signaling.  Go ahead and collect millions of consumers’ information.  Don’t tell us what you’re using it for and don’t feel the need to tell us much of anything else because you aren’t accountable to Congress.” 

“We all want consumers to get a fair shake and be able to make informed financial decisions. That’s not the issue here. The issue here is the need for checks and balances and for consumers to be able to make a choice as to whether their financial information is collected and used.” 

“I cannot in good conscience, with these concerns weighing so heavily on my mind, support moving forward the confirmation of a Director to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless we can make some changes that will balance consumer protections with privacy protections, and allow a healthy and appropriate level of congressional oversight over an agency that wields this tremendous power.” 

The CFPB is an independent agency created under the Dodd-Frank Act that is not subject to the congressional appropriations process and has no mechanism to allow congressional oversight of the agency’s budget.  The agency is funded through revenues from the Federal Reserve that are supposed to be remitted to the Treasury for deficit reduction. The Director of the CFPB has unlimited discretion over how the agency’s money is spent, including the fines and penalties it collects. Other agencies have to remit this revenue to the Treasury.

Click here to read Enzi’s full speech as prepared for delivery.