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McHenry, Luetkemeyer Demand CFPB Director Chopra Clarify Conflicting Testimony on FDIC Power Grab

Washington, June 27, 2022 -

Today, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, Patrick McHenry (NC-10), and the top Republican on the Subcommittee on Consumer Protections and Financial Institutions, Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03) sent a letter to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra.

The letter demands Director Chopra clarify conflicting testimony he delivered to the House and Senate regarding the unprecedented partisan power grab to take control of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s agenda from then-Chair Jelena McWilliams.

Read the full letter to Director Chopra here.

Read key excerpts from the letter:

“Dear Director Chopra:

“In April 2022, you appeared before the House Committee on Financial Services and Senate Committee on Banking to testify and present the Bureau’s semi-annual report to Congress. During those hearings, Republicans on both committees asked questions about the process by which you, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu, and then-Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Director Martin Gruenberg wrested control of the FDIC’s agenda from former Chair Jelena McWilliams—an effort that began in earnest on or around October 13, 2021, when you joined the FDIC Board of Directors.

“Your testimony created the appearance that lawyers at the relevant agencies collectively analyzed the FDIC’s bylaws and endorsed the process by which you and the other directors co-opted the FDIC. They did not. In fact, according to information obtained by Financial Services Committee Republicans, lawyers at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) did not assist whatsoever. We are writing to provide an opportunity to clarify or amend your testimony and resolve the discrepancy between your statements to Congress and the facts.

“On December 6, 2021, you, Hsu, and Gruenberg conducted a so-called notational vote to approve a ‘Request for Information and Comment on Rules, Regulations, Guidance, and Statements of Policy Regarding Bank Merger Transactions.’  You did so despite prior guidance from the FDIC general counsel that stated, ‘The Bylaws of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation do not confer authority to an individual Board member to circulate an item for a notational vote.’

“An eight-page memorandum regarding the authority of the FDIC Board with respect to written voting was attached to your letter. The memorandum’s extraordinary conclusion—that extra-procedural written votes may constitute an official Board decision and that the circulation and recognition of such votes ‘is not under the control of the FDIC Chairperson, General Counsel, or Executive Secretary’—effectively upended the FDIC’s 88-year tradition of considering the Chairman’s agenda on a collegial basis.  

“Neither your letter nor the enclosed memorandum identified its author, or even whether the memorandum represented a consensus among the relevant agencies versus the opinion of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) alone. To be clear, it is material to the Committee’s inquiry whether the OCC had weighed in on this issue, particularly because the memorandum’s legal analysis was contrary to the position of the FDIC’s own general counsel.

“Your testimony indicated that both the CFPB and the OCC were involved in analyzing the FDIC’s bylaws. You further advised us to ‘ask the OCC,’ and we did. In response to a letter from Committee Republicans, the Acting Comptroller stated ‘OCC’s legal staff did not assist the CFPB with any drafting or review of an opinion or memo that analyzed the FDIC Board’s bylaws.’  The OCC also represented there are no communications between the CFPB and OCC referring or relating to the memorandum in question.

“Congress relies upon truthful information to make informed decisions and to conduct effective oversight and, accordingly, federal law prohibits false statements to committees of Congress.  In light of the discrepancy between the Acting Comptroller’s statement and your testimony, and because of the serious implications for providing false testimony, please clarify or amend your testimony as soon as possible. Please also produce any documents and communications that are relevant to this matter, particularly those that we requested on March 7, 2022.”


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